A fast-food operator based in Greenville, South Carolina has been forced to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation uncovered violations at restaurants in South Carolina and Georgia.

Whiteford’s Inc – which operates 30 KFC and Arby’s locations – has paid 298 employees $32,797 in back wages for violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Investigators found that the fast food employer didn’t consider workers’ performance-based bonuses when determining overtime pay rates, which resulted in violations for assistant managers and shift leaders who received the bonuses every four weeks. Taking those bonuses out of the equation, Wage and Hour Division investigators found that the employer was paying those workers lower overtime rates than what is required by law, according to the U.S. Labor Department release.

RELATED: T.I. wage theft lawsuit points to bigger problem

The FLSA generally requires employers to pay overtime at one-and-one half times workers’ total earnings per hour – not just their base rates. Investigators also found that the employer deducted portions of employee wages to pay for uniforms – which resulted in minimum wage violations when those deductions caused workers’ hourly wages to dip below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“The outcome of this case puts these wages into the hands of those who earned them, and demonstrates how the U.S. Department of Labor’s enforcement levels the playing field for law-abiding employees,” said Jamie Benefiel, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Columbia. 

Think you’re a victim of wage theft? Watch this video:

Contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division
Phone: 1-866-4 US WAGE

Online: https://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp/howtofilecomplaint.htm

File a lawsuit: Federal law allows employees to sue for back wages and attorney fees. So, even if your employer owes you just a few hundred dollars, it’s worth reaching out to an attorney.

Find out whether you’re owed unpaid wages

Workers Owed Wages: http://webapps.dol.gov/wow/

It’s a searchable database for workers to find out whether they have wages owed to them as the result of a Department of Labor Investigation within the past three years. 

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