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Federal probe finds 15 'Eat Street' restaurants owe $367K in back wages to 162 employees

The U.S. Department of Labor carried out an investigation in the popular Minneapolis dining district.

Federal investigators have announced it will seek to recover $367,000 in back wages and damages for 162 employees at 15 restaurants on Minneapolis' "Eat Street."

The stretch of Nicollet Avenue is one of the most popular dining districts in the Twin Cities, but a Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) probe found multiple violations of minimum wage and overtime laws during a recent probe.

"Investigators found minimum wage and overtime violations at establishments including: Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar; Black Sheep Pizza; Salsa a La Salsa (Global Market); Salsa a La Salsa (Nicollet Avenue); Marissa’s Supermarket & Bakery; El Nuevo Mariachi; Eat Street Social; Los Maizales and Pancho Villa Minneapolis," the DOL announced on Wednesday.

The WHD said the operation was designed to "educate employers" and "improve compliance with federal wage laws in the grocery and restaurant industries in the Midwest."

As a result, it will be looking to recoup the unpaid wages from the businesses and return them to the affected employees.

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One of the affected locations, Black Sheep Pizza, says its violation was the result of confusion over the rules about having staff working at separate locations, and staff have already been paid what they're owed.

"Black Sheep Pizza, Eat Street or any of our 3 locations, has no current minimum wage violations, nor have we ever," co-founders Colleen Doran and Jordan Smith told BMTN.

"The DoL inquiry for us was related to overtime hours with respect to people voluntarily working more than 40 hours across our different locations. We mistakenly believed that our locations would be treated as separate work places. We were forthcoming with information in regards to the DoL inquiry. Each of the affected employees was paid out immediately for back wages they accrued and overtime fines were paid. No back payment or fines is currently owed to any of our employees or the DoL. "

"We have since corrected our policy and no longer have employees work in more then one location unless specific overtime pay is accounted for credited to said employee. We strive to maintain stellar workplace conditions across all of our locations and pay people fairly for the time they put in. We appreciate the DoL's efforts to clean up labor questions. It was helpful and easy to adjust the way we operated."

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