Akbar Restaurant Pays Heavy Finds for DOL Violations

Long Island Restaurant Pays Hefty Price for Wage Violations

On December 7, 2016, Newsday reported that Kanishka Restaurant Associates, which does business in New York as Akbar Restaurant & Caterer will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle US Department of Labor (DOL) charges that it willfully violated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Investigators determined that the Garden City, Long Island establishment owned by Meena Chopra, failed to pay workers proper wages and failed to keep accurate records of hours between July 2012 and March 2016. This case marks the second time Akbar has faced and settled charges for failing to pay workers in compliance with the law.

The FLSA requires that employers pay at least the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 per hour as well as overtime pay at the rate of time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40. The FLSA also contains provisions that make it unlawful for employers to retaliate against or intimidate employees who seek to enforce their rights or cooperate in DOL investigations.

The FLSA allows employees to file unpaid wage claims to recover the money to which they are lawfully entitled when their employers fail to comply with the provisions. It is possible to receive unpaid back wages including overtime, minimum wages, plus additional compensation. Employers may face additional fines and punishment as well.

Employees to Receive $285,000 Award for Back Pay and Damages

Twenty-four employees were involved in the case and as part of the settlement will receive a total of $285,000 in back pay and liquidated damages. The restaurant will also have to pay over $24,000 in civil penalties to the DOL and take action to prevent future wage and hour violations. The action includes installing and utilizing an automated timekeeping system for all workers.

The Garden City Patch reported several specific ways that Akbar violated the FLSA. They include:

  • Overtime violations: Akbar paid non-exempt employees such as dishwashers and kitchen workers a fixed weekly amount. The workers sometimes worked as many as 60 hours per week. The weekly rate was the same regardless of the number of hours worked. This practice denied the employees the overtime pay they were legally entitled to for hours over 40.
  • Minimum wage violations: The restaurant/catering hall paid food servers, who on occasion worked as many as 70 hours per week, less than $7.25, by failing to apply tip credits properly as required by the FLSA.
  • Recordkeeping violations: Akbar gave investigators falsified records and maintained incomplete and incorrect payroll records. Court documents allege, as reported in Newsday, that the restaurant also kept “multiple sets of books.”
  • Unlawful retaliation: Akbar withheld an employee’s paycheck when he refused to sign a false affidavit regarding their pay practices. Intimidating a worker, withholding his or her pay, or threatening termination are examples of unlawful retaliation under the FLSA. Employers may not punish a worker for refusing to do something illegal or for exercising a legal right. Irv Miljoner, director of the Long Island District Office of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, stated, “These employees work long hours at demanding jobs and deserve to be paid the wages they have rightfully earned. They also have the right to be free of intimidation by their employer. Employees have a legal right to participate in and cooperate with an investigation without fear of retaliation.”

Contact Us

If you think that your employer owes you unpaid wages for things such as overtime or minimum wage violations, consider contacting the attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. Our experienced unpaid wage lawyers represent clients on Long Island and throughout the New York metropolitan area in all employment-related claims. We may be able to help you file a claim to recover back pay plus other damages when your employer violates one or more of the provisions of the FLSA or comparable state law.

You can reach someone at our office 24/7 by calling 1-800-585-4658. Call Leeds Brown today and learn about your rights.