More than a dozen restaurants in Minneapolis' popular "Eat Street" area owe employees hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and damages, according to federal authorities.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that 15 establishments violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's guidance for overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.
They owe 162 employees $367,359 in back wages and damages.
The restaurants include Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, Black Sheep Pizza, Salsa à la Salsa's Nicollet Avenue and Midtown Global Market locations, Marissa's Supermarket and Bakery, El Nuevo Mariachi, Eat Street Social, Los Maizales, and Pancho Villa.
Most of the establishments are located on or just off Nicollet Avenue.
"Initiatives like this one help us collaborate with an industry, determine the root causes of wage violations, and provide compliance assistance that educates employers and helps protect employees," said David King, wage and hour district director, in a written statement. "The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that workers take home the pay they have rightfully earned, and to providing a level playing field for employers who play by the rules."
Black Sheep co-founders Colleen Doran and Jordan Smith issued a statement noting that only their Eat Street location was affected, and that there were no and have never been any minimum wage violations.
"The [Department of Labor] inquiry for us was related to overtime hours with respect to people voluntarily working more than 40 hours across our different locations," the statement said. "We mistakenly believed that our locations would be treated as separate work places. We were forthcoming with information in regards to the [Department of Labor] inquiry. Each of the affected employees was paid out immediately for back wages they accrued and overtime fines were paid."
Black Sheep said it has corrected its policy and no longer allows employees to work in multiple locations unless "specific overtime pay is accounted for."
"We strive to maintain stellar workplace conditions across all of our locations and pay people fairly for the time they put in," the statement said.
The investigation was an attempt to educate employers, rectify violations and improve compliance with federal law, the Department of Labor news release said.
Common violations unearthed in such investigations include not paying employees overtime, shaving time, deducting breaks from work time and poor record-keeping.