The owners of the Colony Diner in East Meadow, New York, have pled guilty to underpaying 72 workers and falsifying records. In addition to facing up to 4 years in prison, the owners, George Strifas and Thomas Strifas, have agreed to pay more than $500,000 as part of the plea. This includes $337,780 in back wages to settle minimum wage and overtime violations, $163,742 in damages to the employees and $46,681 in state unemployment insurance payments. The investigation was the first joint effort involving the Nassau County district attorney’s office and federal and state labor departments under the New York State’s Wage Theft Prevention Act. The investigation unraveled the truth behind the Colony Diner, finding that the between September 2007 and September 2010 the Colony servers sometimes earned less than $2 an hour and the kitchen staff earned no overtime despite working 50 to 60 hours a week.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage and hour laws were enacted to address these injustices. The laws protect employees and ensure they are paid proper wages and properly compensated for working overtime. Under federal law, employers are required to pay employees 1 ½ times their regular hourly wage when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The minimum wage in New York State is $7.25 per hour. Every worker has a right to earn at least the minimum wage. People in the hospitality industry who earn at least $2.25 per hour in tips may receive a minimum wage rate of $5.00 per hour. Different rates exist for other types of service employees. A set of regulations called a “Wage Order” specifies these rates. The Wage Order addresses the unique aspects of each industry or occupation. New York Department of Labor.

Leeds Brown Law PC dedicates a large portion of its practice to the area of employment discrimination. The firm has represented individuals throughout Long Island and the New York City area in matters of wage and hour law. For more information, contact Leeds Brown Law at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation or visit lmblaw.com.