A federal agency recovered nearly $200,000 in wages and damages for employees of Antonia’s Pizzeria in Freeport after an investigation found improper handling of wages and worker safety.  Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A federal agency has recovered nearly $200,000 in unpaid wages and damages for dozens of employees of a Freeport pizzeria after investigators determined the restaurant failed to properly pay and protect its workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor found that Antonia’s Pizzeria failed to properly pay 36 workers their wages, falsified timecards to avoid paying overtime and allowed minors to work long hours in excess of the legal limits. The investigation also found that one underaged employee cleaned a hazardous meat slicer.

The department also resolved retaliation-related litigation with Antonia’s Inc. based on allegations that the restaurant’s management attempted to dissuade employees from providing the department with truthful information requested by investigators with the agency’s Wage and Hour Division.

“Our investigation found that Antonia’s denied dozens of workers their full wages, falsified timecards and violated federal laws that protect young workers’ well-being and safety,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney said in a statement. “This investigation’s outcome shows that employers may face costly consequences when they fail to comply with worker protection laws.”

A reporter who called the business seeking a response to the department’s findings was immediately disconnected.

In an interview in February, Antonia’s owner Lee Sotiropoulos said he didn’t have a complete understanding of the allegations in the Labor Department’s filing, but denied intimidating workers and blamed his former payroll system for any problems with overtime wages being improperly recorded.


“I wasn’t doing it properly,” he said of the payroll system. He said the problem has been corrected since switching vendors.

Following its investigation, the Department of Labor recovered $184,940, representing $92,470 in unpaid wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, for the affected workers. The department assessed Antonia’s with $29,052 in civil penalties for its willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions, and with $6,088 in penalties for the child labor violations.

Additionally, investigators heard claims that the employers pressured workers not to speak with investigators, coached workers on their statements and offered money to workers to make statements that would make investigators believe Antonia’s had complied with the law. As a result, the department obtained a consent preliminary injunction in federal court to halt the retaliation and a consent judgment. The judgment required Antonia’s to pay employees $16,000 in punitive damages and forbade the employer from engaging in any retaliation for employee compliance with labor laws.

The consent judgment also requires Antonia’s Inc. to provide training to all managers on the Fair Labor Standards Act’s provisions concerning tips, minimum wages, overtime compensation, recordkeeping, child labor and retaliation.

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