By: Richard L. Smith
Konstantine Menegatos, a Dairy Queen franchisee operating four locations across New Jersey, must pay $14,006 in penalties and $9,764 in back wages for failing to comply with minimum wage and overtime regulations.
Federal officials said the investigation, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, found that Menegatos violated federal labor laws and employed minors in violation of child labor provisions.
The four Dairy Queen locations owned by Menegatos and involved in the investigation are as follows:
1. Bubbles and Cream LLC, located at 234 Park Ave., Rutherford
2. Shakes and Cakes LLC West Milford, situated at 259 Marshall Hill Road, West Milford
3. Sprinkles and Cones LLC, found at 13 Kinderkamack Road, Emerson
4. Summer Beach Inc., located at 827 12th Ave., Belmar
The investigation revealed that Menegatos underpaid one employee by not meeting the minimum wage requirement and failed to provide overtime pay at time-and-a-half for 14 workers who worked more than 40 hours per week.
Moreover, Menegatos employed 15-year-old minors for more than 3 hours on school days, exceeding 18 hours during school weeks, and allowed them to work as late as 10 p.m.
All of these actions violated child labor provisions outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The violations affected a total of 23 minors who were subjected to subpar working conditions. The FLSA sets strict guidelines for the employment of 14- and 15-year-old workers, including limits on working hours during school days, school weeks, and non-school days.
Commenting on the case, Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey, stated, “Fast food franchises like Dairy Queen offer minor-aged workers valuable work experience, but federal law ensures that experience does not come at the expense of a young worker’s education or related activities.”
The FLSA prohibits 14- and 15-year-old employees from working beyond 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day and after 7 p.m. for the rest of the year.
It also imposes hourly limits on school days, non-school days, and weekly hours when school is in session or out of session.
To help employers and educate young workers and their parents, the Wage and Hour Division recently published “Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers.”
For more information about the FLSA and other labor laws, individuals can contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or use the division’s online search tool to check if they are owed back wages.