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August 14, 2003
Labor Department Sues Rhode Island Restaurant Chain
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against two Rhode Island businessmen and their chain of restaurants, alleging violations of federal overtime pay and youth employment requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Named in the suit are William S. Pinelli and Stephen P. Marra, both of Warwick, and six restaurants in the state. Pinelli is an owner and officer of all six restaurants, while Marra is an owner and officer of five of the restaurants, according to the Labor Department.

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According to Dianne Miller, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Hartford, an investigation by her office revealed that employees in these establishments were found to have worked many hours of overtime (over 40 hours in a single work week), but were only paid straight time for the hours over 40. Investigators also say they found minors 14 and 15 years of age working more than 3 hours in days when school was in session, and required to work after 7:00 p.m. on school days, both in violation of federal youth employment regulations. Finally, the lawsuit alleges these employers were found to have failed to maintain adequate and accurate records of their employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment.

The Labor Department's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, alleges that these violations have taken place since June 1, 2000 and asks the court for a judgment prohibiting the defendants from future violations of FLSA. The complaint also asks the court to order the payment of all due back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

FLSA requires that employees are paid at least the applicable minimum wage; time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 per week; and that accurate records be maintained of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment. The law also regulates the employment of young workers less than 18 years of age.

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