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Restaurant industry forced to pay millions in back wages

The restaurant industry was forced to pay $34,863,786 in back wages to workers in FY 2013, far more than any other low-wage industry, according to Department of Labor records.

The Department of Labor investigated 6,053 cases at restaurants in FY 2013.  Federal records show 47,861 restaurant workers were involved in the investigations.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division finds violations in greater than 80 percent of its restaurant cases, according to spokesperson Scott Allen.

"I think restaurant workers are especially vulnerable because they have a lack of bargaining power.  In other words, they can be replaced. There are a lot of workers looking for those jobs,” said Andrew Biller, a Columbus attorney whose practice focuses on wage and hour laws.

“In the restaurant industry, when someone calls, there's a good chance I'll find wage and hour violations,” said Biller.

Minimum wage, overtime violations and recordkeeping violations are the most common violations found at restaurants, according to Allen.

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