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Na'Brasa to Pay $110K in Back Wages to Staff

Horsham-based na'Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse agreed to pay 42 workers back wages following a U.S. Labor Department investigation.

Employees of na'Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse and Iron Abbey Gastro Pub in Horsham are entitled to a combined $110,369 in back wages, according to the U.S. Labor Department. 

Owners of the Easton Road business agreed to pay the amount to 42 employees after a U.S. Labor Department investigation determined that some employees who worked more than 40 hours per week were not paid overtime and some workers earned less than the $7.25 per hour minimum wage, according to a press release issued by the Department. 

Celso Leite, president of na'Brasa and Iron Abbey - which are located in the same building and share a kitchen - told Patch that the reported failure to pay minimum wage violation is "not necessarily true" and acknowledged that some overtime wages were due from the last two years. 

"Everybody was paid the minimum wage," Leite said Thursday.

Leite said employees were misclassified and implied that the government was looking for issues with his claim that "900 new agents were hired this year to go after businesses."

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the wage and overtime issues were violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. The violations were discovered during an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division of both restaurants.

Investigators found that the employer improperly classified Fair Labor Standards Act's covered employees working as meat carvers, also known as “gauchos,” as exempt from overtime pay and consequently denied them proper compensation for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Additionally, several employees including dishwashers, line cooks and other kitchen staff were required to work long hours – often in excess of 60 per week – and were paid a fixed salary that did not include overtime pay or yield at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The employer also failed to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages and work hours, as required, according to the release. 

“The employer incorrectly concluded that gauchos, because they train for six months to a year in the art of preparing and serving meats in the Brazilian tradition, qualified as professional employees and thus are exempt from overtime,” Stewart Bostic, director of the division’s Philadelphia District Office said in the release. “Our investigators found that the duties of the gauchos are more dependent on skill and precision, rather than originality and talent. The professional exemption from overtime does not apply in this case."

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked over 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

SmiLey October 28, 2012 at 07:58 AM
that's nice that he helped you. But he did an injustice to 42 other people. I think the numbers speak for themselves. 42 against 1 :-/
Steve October 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I work here, this is a joke. The overtime is based on clocking in early and clocking out late, it's required to clock in on time and clock out early, or you're manager tells u to leave ur last shift of the week early. I'm in the kitchen too and he pays us incredibly.
Cora Rowe October 29, 2012 at 05:52 PM
They always say the best promotion is word of mouth. If you have this many disgruntled employees, it gets to the general public sooner or later. Thanks, Theresa for the informative story
Jim December 02, 2012 at 05:09 PM
They should check the legal status of the employees, a lot of them don't even speak english, no wonder Nabrasa was not keeping record of them
Jim December 02, 2012 at 05:15 PM
They could also check the other two brazilian steak house in Philly, I just think the way the gauchos were treated is more like slavery, six months to one year trainning?? Come on I will never go to nabras anymore

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