The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $370,194 in back wages and liquidated damages from the owners of a Pasadena restaurant.
According to the department’s Wage and Hour Division, Rober Yousef Babish, wife Ivette, and sons Julian and Joseph – owners of two Millie’s Cafe locations – one on Washington Boulevard in Pasadena and one in Los Angeles – failed to pay overtime pay to employees that worked more than 40 in a workweek, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The department said on Tuesday that the owners illegally denied overtime wages to 54 workers, some of which as much as 37 hours of overtime per week, and attempted to hide their misdeeds.
An employee with the department told Pasadena Now that workers from both locations were impacted.
In addition to recovering $185,097 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in damages, the division assessed $40,446 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the employers’ violations.
“Wage theft is a serious violation, and restaurant industry workers are too often its victims,” explained Wage and Hour Assistant District Director Susan Bacon in Los Angeles. “These low-wage workers can least afford to have their pay shortchanged, especially by unscrupulous employers like the owners of these Millie’s Café restaurants. We are determined to recover all workers’ hard-earned wages and hold to account those who deny them their due.”
The department said the owners issued company checks and made cash payments. They also failed to keep records of all hours worked, including overtime hours, which led to recordkeeping violations, according to the department.
“Today’s workers can choose to work for employers who value them, pay them full wages and respect their rights as workers,” Bacon added. “Employers who comply with labor law and appreciate the dignity of work will have a clear advantage when it comes to retaining and recruiting the people they need for their businesses to operate.”
Investigators learned about the employer’s practices through the Employment Education and Outreach alliance (EMPLEO) which manages a toll-free hotline 1-877-552-9832 to assist Spanish-speaking workers with workplace issues.
In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $34.7 million for more than 29,000 workers in the food service industry. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports near record numbers of job openings and workers in the accommodations and food services industry quitting their jobs.
The Wage and Hour Division also protects workers against retaliation and has regulations that prohibit retaliation, harassment, intimidation or adverse actions against employees that assert their worker rights. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division and how to file an online complaint. Workers and employers with questions can contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.