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Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer > Blog > Employment Law > Wage and Hour Case: More than $180,000 Recovered on Behalf of Restaurant Workers in Southwest Florida

Wage and Hour Case: More than $180,000 Recovered on Behalf of Restaurant Workers in Southwest Florida


On February 7th, 2024, the Department of Labor (DOL) confirmed that it recovered $184,139 in back wages and liquidated damages for several dozen restaurant workers who were improperly denied the full and fair compensation that they earned under the law. The DOL determined that Sails Restaurant LLC—a Naples, FL-based business—violated seasonal guest worker requirements.

Wage and Hour Enforcement: Recovery of Back Wages for Restaurant Workers

Sails Restaurant LLC has been ordered to pay $184,139 to be split by 56 affected workers at its Southeast Florida restaurant. The employer was also cited for more than $53,000 in civil financial penalties that are payable to the federal government. The DOL found violations of wage and hour laws and violations of federal H-2B visa regulations.

Violation of Wage and Hour Laws and the H-2B Visa Requirements for Employers 

Notably, many of the workers who were subject to wage and hour violations in this case were working at Naples, FL restaurant through the seasonal guest worker program. The DOL found the following specific violations of wage and hour laws:

  • Failure to comply with overtime regulations;
  • Failure to comply with minimum wage regulations (unpaid final paycheck);
  • Improper classification of of excluded job tasks (H-2B visa); and
  • Failure to properly reimburse seasonal workers for visa expenses.

An Overview of the Seasonal Guest Worker Program 

The Seasonal Guest Worker Program—or more specifically the H-2B visa program—is a targeted immigration option designed to help businesses and organizations meet seasonal employment needs that they cannot reasonably otherwise accommodate. The H-2B visa is a non-agricultural visa. Many industries are covered, including things like hospitality and construction. Here are key points to know about employment law and the H-2B visa program:

  • Employers Must Conduct a Temporary Labor Certification Process: Employers must demonstrate to the Department of Labor (DOL) that there are insufficient available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the temporary positions to qualify for a H-2B visa.
  • Employers Must Then Submit a Petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): After receiving a temporary labor certification, employers must petition USCIS for permission to hire foreign workers under the H-2B program.
  • Offer Terms of Employment: Employers are required to offer terms and conditions of employment that comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, including paying the prevailing wage, ensuring working conditions do not adversely affect American workers.
  • Comprehensive Record Keeping: Employers must maintain detailed records of the recruitment process, wages paid, hours worked, and conditions of employment.
  • Strong Worker Protections: Finally, employers must ensure H-2B workers are treated fairly, provided with the same working conditions, wages, and benefits as American-based workers.

 Get Help From a Wage and Hour Attorney in Florida 

Wage and hour laws are complicated. If you have any specific questions or concerns about tipped employee rules, overtime laws, or minimum wage requirements for seasonal workers, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Florida employment attorney for guidance and support.

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