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November 29, 2004
Employer Must Serve Community Service for 'Willful' FLSA Violations

A co-owner of a restaurant in Sandy, Utah, has pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for willful violations of overtime regulations of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the Department of Labor.

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Federal Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells imposed a sentence on Lily Lei, co-owner of the China Lily Restaurant, which included twelve months probation requiring her to fulfill all requirements in the civil settlement agreement. Requirements included compliance with all local, state, and federal laws, including the FLSA; and to serve 120 hours of community service at a homeless shelter by the end of the probation period.

The Department of Labor also filed a civil complaint in federal district court in Salt Lake City. Lei, co-owner of the restaurant with Larry H. Miller Restaurants, Inc., then signed a consent judgment which ordered Lei and China Lily to pay a total of $42,384.01 in overtime back wages and interest to 27 employees. Lei also agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future. In a separate settlement agreement, Lei and the restaurant also agreed to pay an additional $17,900 in penalties for repeated and willful violations of the FLSA.

The civil criminal action against the defendant ended a 33-month compliance action in which a total of $60,282 in back wages for the workers were collected in three separate investigations. The department eventually presented the case to the Assistant U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution, alleging the defendant made numerous false statements and provided falsified records indicating that a number of employees were paid overtime back wages when in fact they were not, according to the department.

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