The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) and Sonic Industries Services Inc. – franchiser of the SONIC Drive-In restaurant chain – have signed a voluntary agreement to help SONIC’s independently owned and operated franchise locations comply with federal labor laws. As part of the agreement, the Oklahoma City-based franchiser will provide a forum and the resources needed to assist the division in educating SONIC Drive-In owners, managers and employees nationwide.
“We encourage other franchisors to follow SONIC’s example and take similar steps to benefit their franchises’ employees and owners by complying with the law,” said Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator for Program Operations Patricia Davidson. “Abiding by the law makes better business sense than facing the prospect of paying back wages, damages, and penalties for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).”
The WHD says it will provide easy-to-use compliance assistance tools designed for the franchise restaurant industry. The package will include video and online training, educational articles for use in internal company publications, and sample training materials for use in company staff meetings. The division will also make representatives available to provide training and compliance assistance to SONIC franchisees, and the Division and SONIC will collaborate using publicly available data to promote franchisee compliance with the FLSA.
SONIC Drive-In is the nation’s largest drive-in restaurant chain, serving approximately 3 million customers daily. Nearly 94 percent of its 3,500 drive-in locations are locally owned and operated.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time-and-one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law further requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. It also establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those non-agricultural occupations that the secretary of labor declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old workers or detrimental to their health or well-being. The FLSA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.