Several Wingstop restaurants in Mississippi, reportedly owned by rapper Rick Ross, have been fined by the United States Department of Labour, Wage and Hour Division for several labor violations that took money from employees.
Rick Ross’ restaurants have also had to give $51,000 in back pay to employees they illegally took in addition to the fine they have to pay. According to the report by the DoL, the franchise operator was fined last week after an investigation was launched by the department into violations of the Labour, Wage, and Hour laws.
The investigation found that the Wingstop restaurants unlawfully charged employees for uniforms, safety training, and background checks. The company also made employees pay cash register shortages and had a serious case of violating child labor regulations.
Wingstop is owned and registered under Boss Wings Enterprises. Rick Ross owns more than 25 Wingstop franchises, and he and his family own and operate the five Mississippi locations that the DoL has fined, several news reports confirmed.
The violations left employees with take-home pay of less than $7.25 per hour, way below the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
The DoL said that the employer illegally reduced the pay rate in weeks when workers earned overtime which led Boss Wings to pay overtime wages that were lower than federal law requires.
There were also recordkeeping violations as the restaurants failed to maintain accurate records of employee hours and wage deductions.
“Restaurant industry employees work hard, often for low wages, and many depend on every dollar earned to make ends meet,” the DoL’s Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall said.
“The law prevents Boss Wing Enterprises LLC from shifting operating costs to workers by deducting the costs of uniforms, cash register shortages or training expenses, or to allow a worker’s pay to fall below the minimum wage rate,” he added.
The DoL says the investigation has recovered $51,674 in back wages and liquidated damages owed to 244 employees. The Department of Labor fined Ross’ restaurants a civil penalty of $62,753.
It’s unclear if more penalties could be coming for Wingstop, as the DoL also found that Boss Wings allowed a 15-year-old to work beyond 10 pm on several occasions in June 2021. This is a federal law violation as 14 and 15-year-olds are prohibited from working before 7 am and after 7 pm from June 1 to Labor Day.
“Employers who do not respect their workers’ rights will likely struggle to retain and recruit the people they need to remain competitive, as workers look for opportunities with employers that do,” Hall said in a statement.
The Wingstop locations investigated were #1590 in Clarksdale, #753 in Tupelo, #777 in Starkville, in Olive Branch, and #832 in Oxford.
Rick Ross has not commented on the DoL investigation.