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Restaurant workers unpaid overtime hours result in $600k payout

Every hour that an employee works counts, especially when the economy is in a downturn. Most employees in Texas and elsewhere expect to be paid at least the state minimum wage for the hours that they work and to be paid overtime hours when applicable. Those who believe that they are not being paid properly can look to the law to be reimbursed for the money that they believe they are owed.

Two restaurants in another state are under fire from the U.S. Department of labor for not paying a group of 38 employees appropriately. According to the complaint, the restaurants allegedly paid its employees less than the minimum wage for 2 years. The workers also claim that they were not paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, in some cases up to 72 hours. The owners of the restaurants are also being accused of failing to keep accurate payroll records.

The husband and wife owners the restaurants contend that the accusations being made are false. The wife asserts that the workers were paid higher than the minimum wage. She said that sometimes the employees did work 48 hours in a week but that they never worked 72. Furthermore, she alleges that when the employees did work more than 40 hours they were given overtime. She claims that she owes the workers nothing.

The court disagreed and sided with the workers, forcing the owners to pay out nearly $600,000 for the unpaid overtime hours and lost wages. As a best practice, Texas workers should always keep a record of the number of hours worked, particularly when the hours are for overtime. If a pay discrepancy does arise, the employees can approach their supervisors to have the issue resolved. If the situation is not handled to a worker's satisfaction, he or she may investigate the possibility of pursuing civil claims and seek a monetary judgment for the unpaid wages.

Source: amestrib.com, "Federal agency suing Ames restaurants for unpaid wages", Melissa Erickson, April 29, 2015

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