San Francisco restaurant workers recoup pay in settlement

Bad bosses: An investigation by the Department of Labor led to 207 S.F. restaurant workers recovering a total of $491

More than 200 San Francisco workers received nearly $500,000 in back pay and overtime owed to them by employers, according to the local Wage and House Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

An investigation by the agency found numerous businesses in the Richmond and Sunset districts and Chinatown were in violation of minimum wage, record-keeping and overtime-pay laws. A total of 207 workers from 18 restaurants will benefit from the settlement, which amounted to $491,852.

Common violations included not paying for all hours worked or paying “off the book” wages that did not meet minimum-pay or overtime requirements. Others included failure to pay employees on scheduled days and not maintaining accurate records of hours worked, according to the Department of Labor.

Many of the workers were of Hispanic or Chinese decent, according to Jose Carnevali, a spokesman for the department. Many worked as servers, cooks or bussers.

A review of records and interviews with employees were part of the department’s investigation, which can take up to 90 days.

The department would not disclose how the investigation began, but Carnevali said they can result from worker complaints or be an independent inquiry by the department because of a known history of violation.

According to Celeste Hale of the local Department of Labor office, the money was paid to employees this calendar year.

The settlement adds to the $2.1 million in payment violations uncovered at nearly 500 Bay Area restaurants from 2006 through 2011. A total of 2,500 workers benefitted from those investigations.

“One underpaid worker is too many,” Carnevali said. “These results show violations in San Francisco are systematic and must be addressed.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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