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Noon Hill Grill Paid Employees Over $87K in Back Wages

US Labor Department's enforcement initiative focused on the restaurant industry found the Noon Hill Grill on Main Street in Medfield was one of 34 Boston-area restaurants that owed back wages to employees.

The reportedly paid $87,945.96 in back wages to 22 employees after the US Labor Department found the restaurant in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to Ted Fitzgerald, regional director for public affairs of DOL.

Fitzgerald confirmed with Medfield Patch Friday that Noon Hill Grill pledged full compliance with the FLSA after it was notified of the violations and has paid its employees the full amount owed to them.

The popular eatery on Main Street in Medfield was one of 34 Boston-area restaurants to owe back wages, according to an article in the Boston Globe Thursday.

A press release issued Thursday by the US Labor Department says its labor law enforcement imitative focused on the restaurant industry found more than $1.3 million in back wages due to 478 employees in Massachusetts.

DOL's enforcement initiative focused on the restaurant industry in the Commonwealth and "uncovered significant violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act," according to Thursday's press release.

"To date, investigations by the Boston District Office of the department's Wage and Hour Division have found $1,307,808 in back wages due to 478 employees of multiple establishments," the press release said. "In addition, the division now is assessing liquidated damages, payable to employees, when employers are found in violation."

The following establishments were found to have underpaid their workers:

  • 15 Not Your Average Joe's restaurants in Greater Boston and eastern Massachusetts
  • 6 Science Partners restaurants in Cambridge and Boston, including Miracle of Science, Middlesex Lounge and Tory Row
  • Metropolitan Club restaurants in Chestnut Hill, Dedham and Natick
  • Noon Hill Grill
  • T.G.I. Friday's in Framingham
  • Fresh City restaurants in Burlington, Needham Heights, Newton Upper Falls and Woburn
  • Paul W. Marks in Everett
  • D'Ann's in Abington
  • The Sherborn Inn in Sherborn
  • The Upper Crust Pizzeria in Salem

"Our investigations found that several restaurants violated the FLSA by paying employees flat salaries for all hours worked without overtime pay, failing to combine hours worked at multiple locations for overtime purposes, paying incorrect overtime rates to tipped employees, making illegal deductions from employees' wages and failing to keep accurate records of employees' hours," said George A. Rioux, the division's district director in Boston. "Even more serious, our investigations found an emerging trend of misclassifying restaurant workers as independent contractors in order to avoid minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements of the FLSA."

According to Thursday's DOL press release, all the establishments have pledged full compliance with the FLSA and have paid or are in the process of paying their employees.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week, according to Thursday's press release. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

Over the past year, according to Thursday's DOL press release, the division also has assessed a total of $295,108 in liquidated damages against Massachusetts’ restaurants. When warranted, the division will assess civil money penalties against employers, payable to the government, in addition to requiring back wages and liquidated damages.

"The restaurant industry employs some of our country's lowest paid workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "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."

For more information about the requirements of the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division's Boston office at 617-624-6700 or the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

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