MANCHESTER, N.H. – A federal investigation recovered $36,106 in back wages and liquidated damages from a Cape Elizabeth, Maine, café, bakery and market for 86 employees after finding the employer denied some workers their full wages and allowed minor-aged workers to perform hazardous jobs and work more hours than allowed by law.
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found C Salt Gourmet Market LLC improperly included managers in the employees’ tip pool and did not pay two workers proper overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek. An employer cannot keep employees’ tips under any circumstances; managers and supervisors also may not keep tips received by employees, including through tip pools. This prohibition applies even if tipped workers are paid hourly at rates equal to or above the full minimum wage.
Investigators also found the employer permitted 10 workers, ages 14- and 15-years-old, to work hours in excess of the federal legal limits. The employer also allowed three 14- and 15-year-olds to use an oven and a 15-year-old to use a deep-fat fryer not equipped with devices to automatically raise and lower the fry baskets, which are violations of child labor occupations standards. In addition, three 14- and 15-year-olds cleaned and operated a power-driven meat slicer – activity prohibited for workers under age 18 by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s Hazardous Occupation orders.
To resolve these violations, the division recovered $36,106 – $18,053 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – for the current and former affected employees. C Salt Market also paid $14,928 in civil money penalties to the department for the youth employment violations.
“The types of wage and youth employment violations found in this investigation are too common in the food services industry, yet they are preventable,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We urge northern New England employers and workers alike to review the Wage and Hour Division’s extensive online compliance assistance toolkits and to contact our office with any questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s wage and child labor protections.”
The FLSA prohibits minors under the age of 14 from working in most situations and 14- and 15-year-old employees from working later than 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day and past 7 p.m., the remainder of the year. Additionally, they cannot work more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day or more than 18 hours per week. The law also prohibits minors from operating hazardous equipment, such as power-driven meat slicers and certain types of bakery machines. To assist employers in avoiding violations, and inform young workers and their parents, the division has published its “Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers.”