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Servers entitled to compensation for wage violations

Several current and former employees at restaurants in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will receive back wages because of pay violations logged by their employers. An investigation into eight local restaurants yielded evidence of wage violations amounting to nearly $150,000 over a multi-year period. The employees will be entitled to financial compensation after government investigators determined that the restaurants failed to comply with new minimum wage standards. Several of the restaurants only owe a couple hundred dollars to their employees, but that sum can make a significant difference to service-industry workers.

The errors reportedly occurred in 2014, when Michigan's minimum wage hike occurred mid-year. In many of these cases, the restaurant owners simply struggled to update their payroll system. In others, payroll providers failed to immediately account for the changes to the state's wage laws. News reports indicate that the majority of the restaurant owners did not have nefarious intent by encouraging employment discrimination; they simply made financial mistakes during a select few pay periods.

This investigation was part of an ongoing discovery effort designed to ensure that employers in Midwestern college towns are complying with wage laws. Too often, younger employees are vulnerable to workplace discrimination that manifests itself as wage concerns. These less-experienced workers may not realize that their employers are taking liberties with their pay, so they end up suffering unnecessary employment discrimination. Alternatively, some employers simply do not keep accurate records or adequately police their payroll providers, a situation that can lead to problems like those recently encountered by the Ann Arbor restaurants.

Young workers deserve to be protected from even inadvertent wage violations. Employees who suspect that they are being victimized by unfair wage practices have legal rights in the state of Michigan.Workers should never have to fight to obtain their overtime pay, for example, and their base wages should always be accurate, even when a state law changes. Victims of wage violations have legal options to pursue their lost money in Michigan courts.

Source: MLive, "Investigation reveals range of pay violations at Ann Arbor restaurants," Ben Freed, June 18, 2015

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