CSI HR: The Case of the 13-Inch Blade (Restaurant Compliance)

restaurant compliance software
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

A Restaurant Compliance Case

Warning: The following contains disturbing accounts of restaurant compliance crimes. Reader discretion is advised.

Crime Scene: Beau’s Beachside Pizza, Subs and Smoothies

Life isn’t a day at the beach when you uncover nefarious restaurant compliance violations. Beau’s Beachside Pizza, Subs and Smoothies has become a local landmark. It opened in 1998 in a small converted bungalow. It started with four tables and a counter. The owners added onto the original building every few years. In 2012, they built a 4,000 square foot facility with inside and outside dining.

Allegation #1 Child Labor Hazardous Duty

In 2017, the parents of a 16-year-old employee registered a complaint. They contacted the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The employee had told her mother about cleaning the razor-sharp meat slicer. They learned that the manager asked one of the employees to clean the commercial slicer. This happened every night. The person cleaning the machine had to remove the blade for cleaning. Then, the employee had to reassemble the machine.

Exhibit A: Binford 13″ Commercial Meat Slicer with Removable Blade

The minor’s parents accused Beau’s of violating child labor hazardous duty protections. At Beau’s, managers routinely asked underage employees to clean the equipment. The diciest duty was cleaning the meat slicer.

Allegation #2 Employer Failed to Pay Minimum Wage To Tipped Employees

When the WHD launched an investigation, they uncovered evidence of more crimes. The first one involved tipped employees.

Servers at Beau’s earn tips from guests. They pool the tips and split between servers, bussers, and kitchen workers. Servers and bussers at Beau’s are paid less than minimum wage. The tips should bridge the gap between the hourly wage and legal minimum wage. This doesn’t always happen on weekday shifts. The employer should make up the difference.

Allegation #3 Employers Deducted Money for Uniforms From Employees’ Pay

The FLSA prohibits employers from deducting the cost of uniforms. The employer must pay for any uniforms they require employees to wear.

Exhibit B: Beau’s Employee Uniform

Beau’s employees have to wear Hawaiian shirts with the restaurant logo. Plus a white apron that is replaced every few months when the stains can’t be bleached out.

Allegation #4 Employer Failed to Maintain Payroll Records

Beau’s played it fast and loose with payroll. The checks weren’t issued on a predictable schedule. Tips often weren’t recorded. They usually didn’t send W-2 forms until late February. And the owner occasionally paid employees in cash. Needless to say, the recordkeeping was similarly haphazard.

Verdict: Beau’s Beachside Pizza, Subs and Smoothies fined $22,907

Beau’s Beachside Pizza Subs and Smoothies paid a civil penalty of $22,907. This included back wages to 17 employees. The court found the employer guilty of all allegations. They paid a maximum penalty for minimum wage and child labor violations.

How Do I Avoid Restaurant Compliance Violations?

Are you a restaurant owner? Are you looking for the best way to maintain restaurant compliance?

The solution is WorkforceHUB from SwipeClock. WorkforceHUB is a unified HR portal. SwipeClock has been helping restaurant owners since 1999.

WorkforceHUB includes:

Employee Profiles Guide Scheduling

The ahead-of-the-curve scheduling tool in WorkforceHUB tracks employee profiles. Managers input ages and certifications for employees. Then they create shift rules using the settings. For example, they can require at least two employees 18 years or older per shift. This would ensure an adult was there to clean the meat slicer. The extra adult is protection against one calling in sick.

If they attempt to staff a shift without two adults, the system will alert them. This ensures all shifts have an employee over 18. Adults are lawfully able to perform potentially hazardous duties. Employers can also track certifications such as food handler’s permits. (There also may be special training for cleaning dangerous equipment.)

What’s The Best Way to Create an Employee Handbook?

You can’t expect employees to follow rules if they don’t know them. Educating employees begins when they are hired. A well-written handbook helps with restaurant compliance. WorkforceHUB makes it easy to create and maintain a good handbook.

The HR manager creates the handbook in WorkforceHUB. They include child labor policies. They should express them explicitly. So no one misunderstands.

WorkforceHUB Signature Verification

All new hires sign and acknowledge they understood child labor policies per DOL regulations. You can apply WorkforceHUB signature verification to other documents as well.

Employee Dashboard Restaurant Compliance Reminders

With WorkforceHUB, employees clock in online with a web clock. The employer posts policy reminders on the main dashboard next to the clock. Daily reminders help employees remember rules.

During shifts, all employees (over and under 18) know the company policies. Especially safety rules.

Of course, employees break rules occasionally. If an employee violates, the signature verification gives the employer some legal protection. If the DOL investigates, at least they can show that employees were trained on policies.

How To Record Employee Tips: TimeWorksPlus Tip Prompt

The TimeWorksPlus tip prompt lets employees enter the tips earned. The timekeeping app sends a tip alert when the employee clocks out. It also tracks pay rates so employers can make up the difference. This is when base pay plus tips falls short.

Restaurant owners need to understand tip laws. They vary by state. And the FLSA has some regulations on tips. For example, managers are usually not allowed to take money from the tip pool. It is generally okay to split tips among back-of-house and front-of-house employees.

The Easiest Way To Keep Payroll Records: WorkforceHUB Automated Recordkeeping

TimeWorksPlus captures punches and creates time cards. If the DOL audits, you run a report for any pay period. The report contains wage and hour information. Plus everything the FLSA requires.

A DOL violation can bring an expensive fine. Some small businesses can’t survive a typical penalty. To get an idea of the fines, visit the newsroom on the DOL website. A buffet restaurant was recently fined $150,000. A Mexican restaurant was fined $203,000.

Protect your restaurant with WorkforceHUB from SwipeClock.

Note: The preceding story is true. However, names, locations, and other details have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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