Understanding Restaurant Labor Laws

Understanding Restaurant Labor Laws

Both employers and workers in restaurants are protected by a number of restaurant laws and regulations. Restaurant owners must follow these restaurant employee laws in order to be in compliance with state and federal law. The U.S. Department of Labor as well as the state and local governments of Pennsylvania and New Jersey mandate that restaurants adhere to these laws. The experienced employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler might help employees whose employers have violated these laws and their restaurant employee rights.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

Both state laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act mandate the following for restaurants with annual gross sales of at least $500,000:

  • Non-exempt employees must be paid at least $7.25 per hour. In New Jersey, however, the workers must be paid at least $8.44 per hour.
    pay deductions for uniforms, cash shortages or customer walk-outs are prohibited if they drop the worker’s pay below minimum wage.
  • Tips can be counted towards the minimum wage, but the employer must pay at least $2.13 per hour and make certain that the tips make up the balance.
  • Workers who work more than 40 hours in a week must be paid one and one-half times the regular hourly rate for each hour above 40.
  • Overtime pay for tipped employees is one and one-half times the minimum wage instead of one and one-half of $2.13 per hour.
  • During the first 90 days of employment, workers under age 20 may be paid a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour.

Young workers

Employers who employ workers who are under age 17 must follow the guidelines for youth workers under the FLSA. Those who are ages 14 to 15 are allowed to work outside of school hours for no more than 3 hours on school days, 8 hours on a non-school day, 18 hours in a school week or 40 hours in a non-school week. Youthful workers are not allowed to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. other than between June 1 and Labor Day. During that time, they may work until 9 p.m.

Hazardous jobs

Workers who are 16 are allowed to perform nonhazardous jobs for unlimited hours until they turn 18. Employees who are younger than age 18 may not perform the following hazardous duties:

  • Operating meat processors
  • Using bakery equipment
  • Operating power-driven equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Act

Established in 1970, OSHA is meant to ensure that work environments are health and safety. All restaurants must do the following:

  • Establish a program for workers to communicate hazards.
  • Have proper training programs in place.
  • Provide protective equipment.
  • Have first aid kits on site.
  • Display Department of Labor posters informing employees about their rights and their protections.

States are able to submit their own safety plans. New Jersey has its own OSHA-approved state plan while Pennsylvania follows the federal safety plan.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

This is a body that reviews complaints of discrimination and that is tasked with enforcing federal laws that prohibit workplace job discrimination based on the employee’s sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, color, race, disability, age or genetic information. The EEOC also reviews complaints it receives that are filed on an employee’s behalf.

Laws enforced by the EEOC

The EEOC enforces the following laws:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against members of the protected classes as well as retaliation against people who complain about discrimination.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which forbids discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits gender-based pay disparities for equal work in the same workplace.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits workers who are age 40 or older.
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which forbids discrimination against qualified people because of their disabilities. This law requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations if they do not cause undue hardships.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discriminating against qualified disabled people in the federal government under sections 501 and 505.
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which forbids discrimination against applicants and employees because of their genetic information.

Contact an attorney

If you believe that your employer has violated your restaurant employee rights under any of these laws, it is important that you seek legal advice. Call Swartz Swidler today to learn more about your rights.