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Why One Buffalo Restaurant Is Being Sued for Overtime Pay

Although federal overtime laws might say one thing about how much those in the service industry should be paid, there are certain exceptions to those laws. This is the case in Buffalo where William K's Restaurant at the Erie Basin Marina is being sued by six employees who say the restaurant withheld wages. The lawsuit was filed by the six employees who are having lawyers from University at Buffalo School of Law's Community Justice Clinic.

The six employees who worked at the restaurant in Buffalo said they were only being paid $7.50 per hour, plus tips. Now, you might be asking why that isn't a fair salary. This is a typical hourly wage for the service industry. Except there is one caveat here that the restaurant owners didn't want the employees to know. The city of Buffalo had invested in the restaurant under the condition that it would meet higher labor standards. 

According to the lawsuit, the city of Buffalo had invested over $900,000 into William K's Restaurant. In return, the restaurant was supposed to pay servers and other employees a starting wage of $13.06 per hour. The employees were obviously shocked when they learned how their employers had cheated them out of the unpaid wages. They are now suing for the unpaid overtime pay and for violating federal and state laws. 

No matter what industry you are in, there are federal overtime laws that are supposed to protect the employees from unscrupulous acts by employers. If you feel that you are being taken advantage of in any way, it is up to you to contact an overtime pay lawyer to determine whether or not you have a case. 



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As we’re in the middle of the holiday season, this is a very busy time of year for Amazon. More and more consumers are shopping online for their holiday items to avoid traffic and other issues that often occur when going out to shop. It is very tempting to bypass the malls and bad weather and shop on your phone in your pajamas.

However, there is a downside to this. Amazon is the biggest e-retailer in the world. It is well-known for its uber efficiency. In order to be that efficient, Amazon has been known to not be the best when it comes to workplace conditions. This New York Times piece highlighted in detail some of the horrors that could occur in an Amazon warehouse. After the bad press, Amazon said that it addressed these issues and would instill new programs and rules to improve employee morale in the warehouse.

Is Amazon Doing the Same Thing in California?


Late last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Amazon workers in California distribution centers who said Amazon was not following California overtime pay laws and other labor laws. The plaintiff in the case is a man by the name of Romeo Palma who works in a Sacramento fulfillment center. His lawyer said the lawsuit covers all California fulfillment centers operated by Amazon, and there are thousands others who want to bring on the same complaints.

Romeo Palma alleges that he was denied a third rest break and overtime pay during the period of November 18-November 19, which is required after working more than eight hours. Palma says that workers are required to work ten hours or more and do not receive an additional break or overtime pay. He also said that workers must clock in at a specific site in the fulfillment and travel a distance to their workplace site, adding to the amount of time they are uncompensated for their work.

As Amazon literally process and ships millions of orders this time of year, it makes sense that they would do everything possible to maximize efficiency. However, they still must follow overtime laws that are mandated by the state. These laws are put in place to ensure workers aren’t being taken advantage of. It appears here, like in many other instances involving Amazon, the company may have bended the rules. 

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Owning a restaurant can be difficult. How many shows are there about helping restaurant owners turn things around before they have to close their doors for good? The competition is cutthroat and one horrible Yelp review could negate years of hard work and sweat and tears. The competition is stiff and many restaurants close after the first year. In addition to that, the margins are notoriously tight.

Having said all that, though, restaurant owners must still follow the rules and that means paying their employees overtime pay when those rules kick in. For example, cooks, dishwashers, and hostesses do not often work for tips. Instead they are paid an hourly wage or salary like everyone else. And as anyone can tell you who works in the restaurant industry, people call out or there could be a late rush, causing them to work more than 40 hours in a given week.

If this happens, a restaurant owner must pay them overtime pay for the time worked over 40 hours. This is just one of the many examples of overtime pay violation. Another misconception is you don’t have to pay tipped employees minimum wage. Yes, tipped employees who rely on tips for most of their wages do only get paid $2.13 an hour. The catch is, though, that they must earn a minimum wage. So if the combination of the tips and $2.13 don’t add up to the state’s set minimum wage, the owner must cover the difference.

What Should You Do If Your Employer Has Violated any Overtime Laws?


If you are a cook or waitress who believes that your employer shorted you compensation that you were entitled to, you do have rights. You don’t have to give up that money. However, you will need someone by your side with a clear understanding of wage and hourly laws in your state. You will need to hire an overtime lawyer who can assess your case and determine whether or not any laws were broken. If he or she thinks that the employer did break the law, your overtime lawyer will seek damages and help you recoup your lost wages.

Although the restaurant industry is a little bit different than other industries regarding pay, it’s not the Wild West. Restaurant owners are still bound by the same rules as everyone else. If your employer has not followed the rules and you were not paid what you deserve, don’t let them get away with it. You have a clear way forward.



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Last year, a federal judge in Texas invalidated the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, which would have raised the threshold for which salaried employees were entitled to overtime pay. The overtime pay rule would have made the threshold $47,476. This would have given 4.2 million more workers overtime protections to ensure they were being paid the money they deserve by their employers. The current threshold is only $23,660.

While the Department of Labor can appeal the ruling, there is a new administration so nobody is really sure if Alexander Acosta, the current Labor Secretary, will take the necessary steps to appeal the case. He has said that he does not like the rule and would like the opportunity to reconsider it. We will have to wait and see what Alexander Acosta does as the clock is ticking on when he can actually appeal.

What Should You Do If You Think You Have an Overtime Pay Case?


However, this is not to say that there aren’t any overtime pay rules in the books right now. Even if Acosta decides to not pursue an appeal, you do have rights as an employee. In the event that you do believe that you’re being taken advantage of, your first step should be to contact overtime lawyers. Your overtime lawyers will review your case with you and determine whether or not any overtime pay laws have been violated. There are so many overtime pay laws out there and many are complex, so it may take time.

To make it easier for yourself and your overtime layers you should have as much evidence as possible to present them during the consultation. This will expedite the process and allow your overtime lawyers to accurately calculate what is owed to you. Some of the things you should be able to provide your overtime lawyers include the following:

  • Pay stubs
  • Documents showing hours worked
  • Records of accrued vacation time
  • Calendars or other documents showing missed breaks
  • Names of supervisors and other employees who may have been denied overtime pay
  • Employers’ official policy on overtime pay

Your overtime lawyers will likely be very busy, so they will only take your case if they can prove a violation and calculate how much a party is owed. If the overtime pay is low, they may recommend you try other options as litigation can be expensive. Sometimes a case is not financially worthwhile. However, the best way to determine whether or not you might have a case is by contacting overtime lawyers in your area and providing them with the evidence.




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