When it comes to paying its employees, The Chicken or The Egg has laid one, according to federal labor officials.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a settlement requiring the owners of the popular Beach Haven breakfast joint to pay $768,548 in back wages, damages and penalties related to its failure to pay workers adequate hourly wages, failure to pay and properly record overtime, and violations of visa requirements specifying the type of work foreign laborers could perform.
The settlement involves a total of 25 employees, including two foreign workers, owed a total of $366,869 in back pay, as well as penalties that include a $42,602 fine against the owner of the Long Beach Island, Beach Haven-based Cramark Inc., for what the Labor Department described as the “willful nature” of the violations.
“The U.S. Department of Labor ensures the labor standards of the (Fair Labor Standards Act) and H-2B visa program are followed to protect workers,” the labor department’s wage and hour district director, Charlene Rachor, said in a statement. “Our efforts ensure that employers understand and abide by the provisions of the program to safeguard American employees against displacement while protecting foreign workers from being paid less than the wage they were promised.”
The owner the restaurant, Mark Cohen, declined to comment.
The labor department said its investigators found that The Chicken or The Egg failed to pay employees time-and-a-half wages when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, and that whatever overtime pay those workers did receive was in cash, and unrecorded.
The investigation further concluded that the restaurant failed to pay foreign workers with a proper accounting of their hours and pay, and that foreign workers permitted by their visas to work in food preparation were employed instead to buss tables.
A brief profile of Cramark on the Buzzfile business site says the company has operated the Chicken or the Egg for 28 years, employing 50 people and generating revenues of $4 million a year.