The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has already recovered some $2.5 million from Los Angeles-area restaurants in back wages, generally unpaid overtime, but recently announced that it was commencing another round of overtime and misclassification audits in the area.

In a newsletter article, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the DOL announced recently that it continues to see "widespread" violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) within the L.A. food sector and is dispatching auditors from its Los Angeles Office to investigate restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, Koreatown, Mid-City, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Restaurant audits are not unique to Los Angeles. Last year the WHD recovered more than $500,000 in back wages for restaurant employees in Tampa, Fla., in  a sweep of 100 eateries.

During its audits, the WHD is also challenging independent contractor classifications in light of "economic reality" rather than contractual language.