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Department of Labor: 34 Boston Restaurants Owe $1.3 Million in Back Wages

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 500 employees at 34 popular Boston area restaurants are owed a total of $1.3 million in back wages. The DOL has an ongoing enforcement initiative that has found significant Fair Labor Standards Act violations over the past year and a half, according to the Boston Globe

Some restaurants paid employees flat salaries worked without overtime pay, failed to combine hours worked at multiple locations for overtime purposes, paid incorrect overtime rates to tipped employees, and made illegal deductions from employees’ wages. The agency also uncovered a growing trend of businesses misclassifying restaurant workers as independent contractors as a way to avoid minimum wage.

“We were surprised by the results. This is substantial,” said George A. Rioux, the division’s district director in Boston. “We’re not getting the change in behavior we want. Companies are paying back wages and agreeing to compliance and it’s not enough to finally wake up and see that we’re serious. Our intent is to achieve compliance and maintain compliance in the future.”

Restauranteurs exploiting workers isn’t a novel concept to those who have worked in the industry, but most people in food service need the jobs despite the revolving door and cloudy standards. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis reiterated this point in a statement:

“The restaurant industry employs some of our country’s lowest paid workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation. In response to the extensive level of noncompliance we discovered, we will expand our efforts to bring the industry into compliance to ensure that employees receive the minimum wage and overtime wages required by law.”

Boston’s newfound wage-theft ring isn’t taking place in small, mom-and-pop shops trying to stay afloat, it’s happening in large, chain establishments, surprisingly. The Boston Globe listed the 34 violators:

1. D’Ann’s Restaurant Abington
2. Fresh City Needham Heights
3. Fresh City Newton Newton Upper Falls
4. Fresh City Woburn
5. Fresh City Burlington
6. Met Bar & Grill Natick
7. Met Bar & Grill Dedham
8. Metropolitan Club Chestnut Hill
9. Miracle of Science Bar + Grill Cambridge
10. Middlesex Lounge Cambridge
11. Tory Row Cambridge
12. Audubon Circle Boston
13. Cambridge 1. Harvard Square Cambridge
14. Cambridge1. Fenway Boston
15. Noon Hill Grill Medfield
16. Not Your Average Joe’s Burlington
17. Not Your Average Joe’s Acton
18. Not Your Average Joe’s Arlington
19. Not Your Average Joe’s Methuen
20. Not Your Average Joe’s Newburyport
21. Not Your Average Joe’s Norwell
22. Not Your Average Joe’s Randolph
23. Not Your Average Joe’s Watertown
24. Not Your Average Joe’s Beverly
25. Not Your Average Joe’s Hyannis
26. Not Your Average Joe’s Dartmouth North Dartmouth
27. Not Your Average Joe’s Lexington
28. Not Your Average Joe’s Medford
29. Not Your Average Joe’s Needham
30. Not Your Average Joe’s Westboro
31. Paul W Marks Everett
32. The Sherborn Inn Sherborn
33. TGI Fridays Framingham
34. Upper Crust Salem


2 Comments on “Department of Labor: 34 Boston Restaurants Owe $1.3 Million in Back Wages”

  1. widespread and decades-old problem and much more systematic than you would think:

    I turned in my employer - a world-famous chef and his wife for time-shaving employee time-cards and illegally diverting tips in 1996 … I researched and went through the proper procedure with the appropriate labor agencies and the feds took 18 months to make anything happen (the statute is only 2 years) and the state of CA drug their feet until it timed out. The millionaire restaurateurs skated away with a minor fine despite mountains of physical evidence the willing testimony or six former managers. The original investor pool for the restaurant chain included many prominent labor attorneys according to the then senior labor writer for LA Times … so makes you wonder who set up the scam in the first place … over $1 million was stolen from employees over a 7-year period at 6 locations … not only are workers part-timed out of benefits, or offered none, now they are seeing their hard work shorted with the alteration of time cards and tipped employees’ seeing their earnings diverted to salary positions … this problem is HUGE

  2. Hate to say this, but the labor department press release on this (which I have at work) does not indicate that at least two of the restaurants on this list were the victims of a payroll outsourcer who didn’t take out taxes and then fled to parts unknown, possibly Brazil.

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