PORTLAND, MAINE — In response to popular restaurants Boda and Green Elephant refusing to pay their employees overtime wages, a Boda based cook has filed a lawsuit against the restaurants claiming they violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the Press Herald.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court and named restaurant owner Nattaska “Bob” Wongsaichua as the responsible party in failing to adequately pay overtime wages.
Plaintiff Chad Egeland claims that Wongsaichua altered “paychecks to remove references to hours worked or hourly rate” when employees worked more than 40 hours in a week. Additionally, while Wongsaichua took measures to avoid paying overtime, he frequently required that his employees regularly work overtime.
Egeland began working for the Wongsaichua owned restaurants in 2009 and rose from a dishwasher to a food preparer and eventually to a chef.
These type of allegations are not uncommon in Main, according to Egeland’s attorney Andrew Schmidt.
“Wage theft is incredibly common in Maine, especially in the restaurant industry, and enforcement is incredibly weak here,” Schmidt told the Press Herald.
Egeland has since left all Wongsaichua-owned restaurants.
“I care a lot about everyone that works there,” Egeland said. “This case is about getting everyone the wages they’ve earned so that the restaurants can continue to develop into a strong business for our community. I hope I haven’t lost any of the great friendships I’ve built over the years working for them.”
Lawsuit documents indicate that while Egeland received a partial payment to compensate for his unpaid wages, Wongsaichua has yet to pay for attorney fees or proved that his restaurants will no longer employ the deceptive overtime pay tactic.
Maine Overtime Pay Legal Information
Portland is the largest population center in the state of Maine and serves as one of the states largest employment hubs.
With a denser population than other employment hubs in the state, it is more susceptible to Fair Labor Standards Act and state law violations than anywhere else.
Currently, the state minimum wage rests at $7.50 but may face an increase depending on the status of federal legislation regarding a nationwide minimum wage adjustment. However, in the event that a worker exceeds 40 hours of recorded work in a standard seven day week, they must be compensated by 150% of their standard wage for hours exceeding 40.
For example, a minimum wage work who works 45 hours in a standard work week and has not received exempt status must be paid $11.25 for work hours 41 and above.
Frequently, businesses attempt to misclassify workers or blatantly disregard state and federal laws to avoid paying their workers the appropriate wage. Workers who are subjected to this treatment have the legal right to pursue action against their employer and receive compensation for all withheld wages.
Employers can be held accountable for various wage requirements in the event they require an illegal tip pool, fail to record “off-the-clock” employee duties, or spread overtime hours across proceeding weeks in addition to dozens of other deceptive wage tactics.
If you believe that you were subjected to any of the aforementioned violations or believe you are entitled to withheld wages, contact an attorney immediately to begin the lawsuit filing process.