The Department of Labor (DOL) is launching a Wage and Hour (WHD) investigation of Denver area restaurants for compliance with overtime pay, working hours, and child labor, according to the local DOL office.

Chad Frasier, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Denver, says that the restaurant industry has been targeted because of past performance by similar businesses.

"The industry typically pays relatively low wages and employs workers who may not be aware of their rights under the FLSA, or how to complain when those rights are violated," he said. "Many of them are recent immigrants to this country and may not speak English; some of them are simply young and new to the workforce."

The goal, according to Frasier, is as much to inform restaurant owners of the standards they must maintain as it is to redress back pay issues.

Over the next year, the initiative "will seek to bring employers into compliance for the future and get back wages paid to workers where they are found due," said Frasier. "Even those workers who do not receive back wages will benefit by having a more informed employer and being more informed themselves."

Typically, small businesses without fully developed human resource capacities can run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which covers such standards as minimum wage, overtime and child labor.

Even larger businesses often misclassify their employers and end up being slapped with past-due overtime bills once the WHD gets alerted and begins proceedings.

Stay clear of WHD fines and legal actions by getting a copy and following the advice in Personnel Concepts’  FLSA Overtime Rules Compliance Kit.