US Department of Labor (DOL) Recovers $320K in Back Wages and Damages for 59 Employees of SOJUba Restaurant in Boston’s Fenway Neighborhood.
SOJUba also pays $40K in penalties for willful wage violations.
BOSTON, MA (STL.News) A restaurant in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood has paid a total of $320,000 in back wages, liquidated damages and punitive damages to 59 current and former employees to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
The division’s investigation of SOJUba, located at 1265 Boylston St., found the restaurant failed to inform some workers of their cash wage and tip credit, as the FLSA requires. Further, some ineligible workers were included in the tip pool, resulting in other workers not being paid all the tips they had earned. Certain workers were denied the federal minimum wage as a result of the invalidation of the restaurant’s ability to take a tip credit.
The FLSA permits an employer to take a tip credit toward its minimum wage and overtime obligations for tipped employees if it ensures that the employees receive enough tips from customers and cash wages per workweek to equal at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation required under the FLSA.
Investigators also found that SOJUba did not pay at least the minimum wage to front-of-the-house workers for every hour worked, pay employees proper overtime wages for all hours worked over 40 in a work week, or maintain accurate payroll records. During the division’s investigation, the business told workers what to say to investigators, in violation of the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision.
The investigation has resulted in SOJUba paying the affected workers $147,500 in back wages and $147,500 in liquidated damages, plus $25,000 in punitive damages for the retaliation.
The back wages cover the period between August 17, 2019, and August 13, 2022. SOJUba has also paid $40,000 in civil money penalties to the U.S. Department of Labor because of the wage violations’ willful nature.
“The Fair Labor Standards Act clearly spells out an employer’s responsibilities to pay proper minimum wage and overtime rates to employees and forbids employers from attempting to coerce workers or tell them not to participate in a Wage and Hour Division investigation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston. “When employers deliberately attempt to ignore the law’s requirements, the U.S. Department of Labor will actively pursue damages and penalties in addition to recouping back wages for employees hurt by such behavior.”