Hawks Quindel recently won a hard fought victory for a group of local restaurant workers claiming that they had not been paid properly under the Fair Labor Standards Act. On December 12, 2014, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Lynn Adelman granted Hawks Quindel’s motion for partial summary judgment on several issues in Beltran v. Maxfield’s, LLC, Case No. 13-cv-1043. The Court’s decision settled disputes regarding whether Maxfield’s, which is located in Fox Point, had paid minimum wages and overtime premium pay to a group of its dishwashers, bussers, and cooks as required by federal law. In doing so, the Court held that:
- An employer cannot claim a credit for minimum wage violations under the FLSA by claiming that its failure to withhold taxes from the employees’ pay actually increased the employees’ net earnings;
- An employer cannot claim a credit for minimum wage violations under the FLSA by providing meals to employees if the employer cannot substantiate the cost of those meals; and
- An employer cannot claim a lower regular rate to avoid liability for overtime violations under the FLSA where the indisputable evidence shows that the employee was in fact paid straight time at a higher rate for all hours worked in a given workweek.
The Court’s decision confirmed several longstanding principles under the FLSA and eliminated several common defenses which employers use in an attempt to avoid their minimum wage and overtime pay obligations. While the Court has determined that Maxfield’s has violated federal law, a trial remains necessary to decide how much money the employees are owed as well as whether Maxfield’s willfully violated the FLSA.
Attorneys Larry Johnson, Timothy Maynard, Summer Murshid, and Michele Sumara from Hawks Quindel’s Milwaukee Office have performed work on the case. If you believe that you are not being paid correctly by your employer, please contact Hawks Quindel’s Wage and Hour attorneys as soon as possible to set up a consultation.
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