DOL launches initiative to investigate pay practices in fast food industry

Agency will focus on education to prevent common wage and hour violations

Posted February 9, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced it has launched an education and enforcement initiative on the West Coast and in surrounding areas aimed at ensuring fast food workers are being paid the proper minimum wage and overtime.

According to the WHD, investigations completed in the last five quarters nationwide have resulted in fast food employers paying more than $6.7 million in back wages owed to nearly 18,000 employees.

The agency says investigators will continue to look at establishments in California, Oregon, and Washington, confirming compliance with wage and recordkeeping practices of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA).

In addition to conducting investigations, Wage and Hour officials are organizing roundtable meetings with local industry stakeholders, holding training sessions with groups of restaurant franchise owners on FLSA compliance, and meeting one-on-one with various franchisors. The fast food industry widely uses the franchise ownership model in its operations.

The WHD says investigators will continue to look for commonly found fast food restaurant industry violations, including:

  • Failure to pay workers for all hours worked, typically time spent either before or after a scheduled shift.
  • Deductions from pay that result in minimum wage and overtime violations.
  • Unlawfully categorizing some salaried workers as exempt from overtime.
  • Requiring minors to work in jobs or at times prohibited by child labor laws.
  • Misclassifying delivery drivers as independent contractors, instead of employees, and as a result denying them minimum wage and overtime.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt workers be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus one and one-half times their regular wages for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.

Wage and Hour Compliance with FLSA Manual J. J. Keller's Wage and Hour Compliance with FLSA Manual provides critical info to help you comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws.


J. J. Keller's FREE HRClicks™ email newsletter brings quick-read human resources-related news right to your email inbox.

Sign up to receive HRClicks™.