$328,205 in Back Wages and Damages in Lawsuit Against Cheddar's Casual Cafe Inc.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Cheddar’s Casual Cafe Inc. will pay $99,168 in back wages and $62,417 in liquidated damages to 268 current and former employees of Cheddar’s restaurants in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Lubbock, Texas, under the terms of a consent judgment. The chain will pay an additional $166,620 in civil money penalties for child labor violations, as well as for willfully and repeatedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and record-keeping provisions.

An investigation led by the Wage and Hour Division’s Dallas District Office found that managers recorded fewer hours in the payroll system than employees actually worked, tipped employees did not take home the required federal minimum wage, and managers did not compensate employees for attendance at mandatory meetings and training. In addition, five 16-year-old workers were permitted to operate a trash compactor in violation of Hazardous Occupations Order No. 12.

“The Labor Department will hold employers accountable when they do not properly pay their workers and put young employees in danger by allowing them to perform hazardous jobs,” said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in the Southwest. “The resolution of this case shows that we will not hesitate to use all tools at our disposal to protect vulnerable employees.”

The consent judgment was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. In addition to requiring back wages and damages, the judgment will enjoin the company from future FLSA violations.

FLSA-covered employees must receive at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked. Tipped employees must be paid a cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour, and the cash rate when combined with their tips must total at least $7.25 per hour. The FLSA also specifies occupations the secretary of labor has declared hazardous for workers under age 18. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records for all workers.

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