Photo: The Olive Branch Wing Stop location, 7465 Goodman Road. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that the operator of five Wing Stop franchise locations in Mississippi, including one in Olive Branch, made employees pay for their uniforms, safety training, background checks and cash register shortages – and violated child labor regulations.
The Southaven-based Boss Wings Enterprises LLC has paid $114,427 in back wages, liquidated damages and civil penalties, according to the DOL.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigation into the pay practices of Boss Wings Enterprises LLC in Southaven discovered several violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the following:
- Minimum wage violations when paycheck deductions for uniforms and cash register shortages caused some employees’ average hourly rates to fall below the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
- Overtime violations when the employer’s deductions for safety training and background checks illegally decreased the rate-of-pay in weeks when workers earned overtime, and led Boss Wings to pay overtime at rates lower than federal law requires.
- Recordkeeping violations for failing to maintain a record of employee hours worked and wage deductions.
The investigation led to the recovery of $51,674 in back wages and liquidated damages for 244 workers, and an assessment of $62,753 in civil money penalties.
“Restaurant industry employees work hard, often for low wages, and many depend on every dollar earned to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall in Jackson, Mississippi. “The law prevents Boss Wing Enterprises LLC from shifting operating costs to workers by deducting the costs of uniforms, cash register shortages or training expenses, or to allow a worker’s pay to fall below the minimum wage rate.”In addition to the wage violations, division investigators learned that Boss Wings allowed a 15-year-old employee to work past 10 p.m. several times in June 2021, a violation of FLSA child labor work hours standards. Standards prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from working before 7 a.m., or after 7 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.
Wing Stop locations investigated are located in Olive Branch, Clarksdale, Tupelo, Starkville, and Oxford.
“Employers who do not respect their workers’ rights will likely struggle to retain and recruit the people they need to remain competitive, as workers look for opportunities with employers that do,” Hall added.