The U.S. Labor Department announced that settlements in lawsuits against eleven
Chicago area Chinese-style buffet restaurants have been reached calling for
recovery of back wages owed to workers for overtime pay and minimum wage violations
of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
"Our priority at the Department of Labor is to protect low-wage workers,"
says Timothy Reardon, regional administrator in Chicago for the department's
Wage and Hour Division, "We will not hesitate to aggressively enforce the
The settlements include payment of over $665,000 for more than 100 workers
employed in the eleven restaurants. Workers covered by the agreements were employed
as busboys and kitchen help, some receiving less than the federal minimum wage
of $5.15 per hour. Others worked as many as 66 hours per week without overtime
"It is very important these matters were resolved in an expeditious manner
so that we can begin the process of locating the workers and restoring their
back pay as soon as possible," Reardon says. "Our experience in these
matters also dictates that it's important to protect low wage workers from retaliation,
whether it be in the form of dismissal or coercion to return their wages to
the employer. The proposed judgments all contain a provision that no retaliation
will take place. We consider this a significant achievement on behalf of the
The Wage and Hour Division, part of the Employment Standards Administration
of the Labor Department, enforces the FLSA. It requires that covered employees
be paid the federal minimum wage of $5.15 and time and one-half their regular
rate of pay for hours worked over forty in a single workweek. The law also requires
employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records.