FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A Fairfield restaurant and its owner must pay $244,930 in back wages and liquidated damages to eight employees as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Division investigators found that Vinny’s of Fairfield Inc. – which does business as Vinny’s Ale House – and owner Ernst H. Buggisch failed to pay required overtime to back-of-the-house employees when they worked more than 40 hours per week, according to a statement from the Department of Labor.
In the settlement, the company also agreed to pay $2,992 in penalties for violations of the overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“This settlement is about getting these employees the wages they legally earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director David Gerrain. “The Division encourages all employers to access the many compliance resources we offer, and avoid the liabilities that can come with breaking the law.”
The investigation determined that the employer paid the employees overtime at straight time rates, in cash, instead of time-and-one-half their regular pay rates as the law requires, according to the Department of Labor.
The employer also failed to maintain accurate time records, failed to produce records of the cash payments, maintained two sets of time records and provided inaccurate records to investigators, the statement reads.
In addition, the employer intimidated employees during the investigation, coaching them to lie to investigators. The settlement prohibits the defendants from future FLSA wage, recordkeeping, and retaliation violations, according to the statement.
“Businesses that violate the law gain a competitive advantage over law-abiding employers,” said the department’s Regional Solicitor Michael Felsen. “We will vigorously enforce the law to level the playing field for companies that play by the rules and to safeguard employees’ hard-earned wages.”
The division’s Hartford District Office conducted the investigation and Wage and Hour Counsel Merle D. Hyman of the department’s regional office of the solicitor litigated the case.
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