Court orders Long Island pizzeria to pay $178K in back wages, damages, penalties for denying workers overtime wages

2 weeks ago
AMERICA NEWS NOW

NEW YORK – A federal court in New York has ordered a Long Island pizzeria and its owner to pay $178,000 in back wages, damages and civil money penalties after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found the employer’s pay practices shortchanged workers when it failed to pay overtime wages.

A consent judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered Lynbrook Pizza & Pasta Inc., operating as Regina’s Pizzeria and owner Nunzio DiLorenzo to pay $84,160 in back wages and an equal amount of $84,160 in liquidated damages, plus interest, to the affected workers. The court also ordered them to pay $9,679 in civil money penalties assessed by the department due to the violations’ willful nature.

The court’s action follows a Wage and Hour Division investigation that concluded Regina’s Pizzeria and DiLorenzo failed to pay certain employees overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours per week, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. They also violated the FLSA’s recordkeeping requirements by failing to keep accurate records of work hours and pay rates.

Specifically, the division’s investigation found the employer:

  • Paid non-exempt kitchen employees a fixed salary for all hours worked with no additional overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.
  • Calculated the overtime rate for their tipped employees based solely on the direct cash wage and not the full minimum wage rate. 
  • Rounded weekly wages up or down to the nearest dollar. 
  • Created an artificial hourly rate for workers to try to show FLSA compliance.

“Over the past year, the services provided by essential food industry workers have helped us cope with the many challenges we’ve faced. They deserve to be paid every cent of their lawfully earned wages,” said Wage and Hour District Director David An in Westbury, New York. “Too often, employers fail to pay proper overtime to workers and attempt to obscure their actions with incomplete and inadequate records. Other employers should view this investigation’s outcome as a reason to review their own pay practices and avoid the costly consequences of disregard for the law.”

The employer failed to resolve violations subsequent to the investigation leading to litigation by the department’s Office of the Solicitor.

“Failing to pay overtime time wages to workers who are entitled to overtime compensation and then trying to feign compliance is a clear violation of the law,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York City. “The U.S. Department of Labor will take legal action to ensure workers are paid properly and employers who violate the law are held accountable.”

The judgment requires the defendants to notify affected employees about the judgment and their FLSA rights in Spanish and English. It also prohibits the defendants from retaliating against employees and soliciting them to return or “kick back” their wages and damages.

The division’s Long Island District Office conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Jacob Heyman-Kantor of the New York Regional Office of the Solicitor litigated the case for the department.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).  A Restaurant Compliance Toolkit is available for employers seeking additional compliance resources.  Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

En Español.