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Labor Dept. finds Senate cafeteria workers underpaid by over $1M

There's no question that the restaurant industry is one of the most challenging sectors in which to earn a living here in the U.S. That's because employees are not only among the lowest paid in the our nation's economy, but also because their employers routinely skim or pool tips, or otherwise engage in illegal tactics designed to deprive them of their hard-earned wages.

If you don't believe it, consider that the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that a federal contractor in charge of supplying food to Senators, along with officials and staffers deliberately underpaid hundreds of employees by over $1 million.

Indeed, the DOL released a statement yesterday indicating that a private contractor whose services were retained by the Architect of the Capitol to run the dining services for the U.S. Senate had violated the Service Contract Act, the law covering pay standards for those employed under substantial federal contracts.

Specifically, investigators determined that Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor Personnel Plus improperly misclassified workers into lower-paying jobs, required them to perform uncompensated work prior to their scheduled start times and failed to pay for other required benefits. In total, the DOL investigation determined that 674 employees are owed $1,008,302 in back wages, which breaks down to roughly $1,500 per worker.

For its part, Restaurant Associates attributed the misclassifications to "administrative technicalities related to [their] associates' evolving day-to-day work responsibilities," and promised to pay the amounts owed to the 674 employees.

This may not be the end of the matter, however, as DOL officials indicated that they are currently reviewing the findings of the investigation to determine whether these two companies could be barred from securing future contracts with the federal government.

Furthermore, several high-ranking Senate Democrats are calling for the existing contract with Restaurant Associates to be terminated.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you are a restaurant employee who believes their employer is skimming or pooling tips, or otherwise misclassifying workers, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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