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March 16, 2016

DOL Investigates Pay Practices in West Coast Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food establishments in California, Washington and Oregon are currently the focus of a federal investigation, as regulators examine whether these employers are paying their workers the appropriate minimum wage and overtime pay.

According to a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), investigations similar to the West Coast Fast Food operation have been conducted across the U.S. over the past five years or so. These efforts have reportedly generated more than $6.7 million in recovered back wages for close to 18,000 fast food employees.

Highlighting the importance of these investigations into fast food industry pay practices, WHD Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez has explained:

The men and women cooking and serving our burgers and fries are some of the hardest working people in our communities, often juggling long shifts and multiple jobs for comparatively low wages. We want to make sure they’re being paid every penny they rightfully earn… Unfortunately, we still find business owners willing to cut corners at workers’ expense. This initiative will ensure that these workers are paid their hard-earned wages. It will also help to level the playing field so that the many upstanding restaurant owners who play by the rules do not find themselves at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not.

Brief Background on the FLSA: Minimum Wage & Overtime Pay Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law governing minimum wage and overtime pay (as well as various other issues). According to the FLSA:

  • The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.
  • Overtime pay is due (to covered nonexempt workers) for any hours worked over a standard 40-hour work week (in a given 7-day period).

When, however, states – like California – have laws setting the minimum wage at a higher rate than the federal minimum wage, workers in those states will have the right to the higher wage (i.e., the state minimum wage will trump the federal minimum wage).

In California, the minimum wage is currently $10. However, various regions, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have passed their own laws to establish additional minimum wage hikes in the coming months and/or years.

Common Fast Food Industry Violations

While the WHD is primarily focused on evaluating pay practices in West Coast fast food restaurants as part of its ongoing investigation, authorities have noted that investigators will also be examining these employers for other common violations that plague the industry.

Examples of some of these common fast food industry violations include (but are not exclusive to):

  • Not paying employees for all hours worked
  • Illegally docking employees’ pay
  • Misclassifying employees as contractors
  • Violating child labor laws.

When the WHD wraps up this investigation and issues its findings, we’ll report them to you here, in a future blog. Until then, share your opinions about this investigation – and minimum wage/overtime violations in general – with us on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a Los Angeles Employment Law Firm at the Azadian Law Group, PC

If you have been the target of an employer’s illegal and unfair pay practices, contact a Los Angeles employment law attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC to find out more about your options for recovery and justice.

Call us at 626-449-4944 or send us an email via this contact form to set up a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers. If you choose to move forward with us, you will not have to pay us any legal fees until or unless compensation is secured for your case.

From offices based in Pasadena, our attorneys provide exceptional legal service and representation to people throughout Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and the state of California.



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