The hospitality industry, including hotels, motels and resorts, has been violating workers’ wage and hour laws for many years. It’s an industry that employs many non-English speaking and undocumented workers who, unfortunately, are scared to ask for their rightful wages. When employees in an industry, whether they are documented or not, are not being paid their rightful wages, it not only affects their cost of living, but it also results in lost tax revenue to the entire country. This in turn, impacts the entire economy.
The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (“DOL”) of the Virginia, Norfolk office, recently announced an enforcement initiative against local hotels. Over the past 3 years, the Labor Department found that 60% of the hotels that were investigated had violations. The government audits revealed that employers were taking advantage of workers, especially undocumented workers. Patricia A.J. Pickett, Assistant Director of the DOL in Norfolk, stated that employers tried intimidating undocumented workers by telling them “You’re not going to say anything. You’re not supposed to be here.”
One of the more frequent violations included not paying workers overtime wages. For example, if an employee worked 20 hours per week at one hotel and worked 25 hours at another hotel in the same week, the worker should have been paid time and a half his or her usual rate of pay for the hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week. In other words, he or she should have received 5 hours of overtime pay.
Employers were also found to be violating minimum wage laws. For example, you cannot pay an employee minimum wage and then require him or her to purchase a uniform. You must pay wages such that after paying for the uniform, the employee earns his or her minimum wage of $7.25.
The DOL has made it known that it intends to audit hotels, motels, and resorts across the country for compliance with wage and hour laws. This is greatly due to the fact that it considers the hospitality industry at high risk for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). If you’re in the hotel business, make sure your personnel records and payroll records are in compliance with the FLSA. Since the government will also check your employees’ lawful immigration status, be certain that you’re not violating any immigration laws. Our experienced Employment Law attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala can help you make sure you’re in compliance with the Federal and State labor laws. Call us now at (800) 893-9645 to avoid any potential liability and safeguard your company from costly litigation.
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