GULF BREEZE, Fla. – A federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor at a Gulf Breeze restaurant found several pay practice and child labor violations, including the failure to pay sushi chefs overtime wages due and the employment of 15-year-old workers for more hours per week than the law allows.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Fred Flounder Inc. – operating as Flounder’s Chowder House – violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor, overtime and recordkeeping provisions by doing the following:
- Permitting seven, 15-year-olds to work beyond legally allowed hours, including working more than eight hours on a non-school day.
- Paying sushi chefs a flat salary with no overtime pay, when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Though some of the chefs had some supervisory tasks, they did not have sufficient management duties to be considered managers and were entitled to overtime pay.
- Not keeping an accurate record of hours sushi chefs worked.
- Failing to provide workers information about their FLSA rights either through the employee handbook or an FLSA poster.
The division investigation led to the recovery of $26,776 in back wages for the 10 chefs, and an assessment of $5,138 in civil money penalties to Flounder’s Chowder House to address the child labor violations.
“Employers must ensure that federal labor law is correctly applied and that workers are not shortchanged as the result of a misapplication of the law. Any employer who employs minors absolutely must take the time to review the requirements and restrictions regarding youth employment or face the possibility of costly penalties,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Wildalí De Jesús in Orlando, Florida. “The violations found in this investigation and the penalties they carry could have been avoided. We encourage employers and workers to contact the Wage and Hour Division with their questions about federal employment laws.”
In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the Wage and Hour Division’s Southeast region found child labor violations in more than 190 food service employers investigated, resulting in more than $1 million in penalties assessed to employers.