The owner of five Wingstop restaurants in California has been cited by the state’s labor department for allegedly underpaying more than 550 workers. Clinton Lewis owes nearly $3.2 million in back wages and penalties, according to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Investigators found that Lewis operated each Wingstop location as a separate corporate entity, which allowed him to pay employees a lower minimum wage than is required for employers with more than 25 employees. Lewis also allegedly failed to pay employees overtime and meal break premiums.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office has ordered Lewis to pay his workers the back wages they are owed, as well as penalties and interest. Lewis has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The allegations against Lewis are part of a growing trend of wage theft in the restaurant industry. A 2019 study by the National Employment Law Project found that restaurant workers are more likely to be victims of wage theft than workers in any other industry.
The study found that restaurant workers are often paid less than the minimum wage, forced to work off the clock, and denied overtime pay. Wage theft is a serious problem for workers and their families. It can lead to poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity.
If you are a restaurant worker and believe you have been a victim of wage theft, you can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. You can also contact a legal aid organization for assistance.