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April 13, 2011
Pizzeria Racks up $800,000 Tab for Wage Violations

Martino’s Pizzeria Inc., doing business as Mama’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Copiague, has been ordered to pay $780,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 40 employees as a result of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

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The court’s judgment orders the immediate payment of $390,000 in minimum wage and overtime back wages and another $390,000 in liquidated damages; requires payment of an additional $20,000 in civil penalties to the government for willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); and prohibits the company and its owners from future FLSA violations.

An investigation by the Long Island District Office of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Westbury found that several employees of Mama’s Pizzeria were required to work 70 to 80 hours in many weeks without overtime compensation. Employees were also reportedly paid less than the federal minimum wage. The defendants paid their employees partly in cash off the books, and kept no time or payroll records indicating their employees’ work hours, tips, wages and other conditions of employment as required by the FLSA, DOL found.

“Our experience has shown that many full service pizza/pasta restaurants on Long Island are willfully underpaying their employees,” said Irv Miljoner, director of the Long Island District Office. “That was the case here. We are targeting similar employers in this industry for enforcement actions.”

“When employers take advantage of workers who may not know their rights, the Labor Department will step in,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “This case is significant because 40 people who worked hard for low wages they did not receive finally will be paid. Businesses need to understand that doing right by their employees should be their priority, as it is ours.”

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