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Annapolis-based McDonald's franchisee agrees to back wages for 138 workers

Operators of nine McDonald's in the Baltimore area and on the Eastern Shore agreed to pay more than $250,000 in back wages and damages to 138 workers for violations of minimum wage, overtime and child labor provisions, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

Annapolis-based franchise operators Gold Hat Inc. and Gold Hat II Inc., which have the same owner, will also pay $4,300 in civil penalties for the child labor violations, under the agreement.

"The restaurant industry employs some of the most at-risk workers that we see," Mark Lara, director of the Labor Department's wage and hour division's Baltimore district office, said in a statement. "These employees were denied wages they had rightfully earned working long hours for this employer."

Gold Hat Inc., which runs McDonald's in Annapolis, Arnold, Hampstead and Owings Mills, and Gold Hat II, which operates locations in Annapolis, Eldersburg, Owings Mills, Centreville and Chestertown, said the companies are committed to complying with wage and hour laws and disagree with "some positions" taken by the Labor Department.

Investigators found that employees' hours at more than one restaurant in a single week were not totaled to determine if overtime was due, even if they had worked more than 40 hours. The employer also deducted cash register shortages from employees' pay, illegally reducing it below the $7.25 minimum wage. Ten employees ages 14 and 15 were found to have worked outside hours allowed by child labor laws.

"We worked cooperatively to resolve the allegations for all parties' benefit," the Gold Hat companies said in a statement. "We have also put systems in place to enhance education and training to ensure continued compliance with all state and federal laws and regulations."

Gold Hat has agreed to conduct an internal audit to review compliance with laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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