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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.

m.romney October 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
This is how to run a successful business. Next I ship the meat carving to China and the dishwashing to India.
Dolores Forget October 26, 2012 at 01:07 AM
It is unfortunate that some restaurant owners choose to be greedy and exploit their workers (NaBrasa is NOT cheap). Some tend to bank on illegal workers putting up with nonsense like this and not reporting them. I hope they make good on the wages, this is sad to see because we have enjoyed NaBrasa.
T Neighbor October 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Sounds like the owner is a thief and hates getting caught! There are other Brazilian Steakhouse Style restaurants in the area and none of them were investigated and charged. It doesn't seem to be an industry wide issue! Glad those "900 agents" caught this thief. Place is terrible anyway. Want the real thing, go to Fogo de Chao!
Jim P October 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
I worked at Na Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse and the Iron Abbey for almost 2 years. I unfortunately had to move away and change Jobs in the process otherwise i would still be working there. I was always treated fair, well and paid much better than what i currently make, but what was most impressive to me was when i needed help with a mortgage for a property for my family and had heard that Mr. Leite had experience in real estate i approached him about it, well he helped with information and showed interest in the progress at last minute when i was closing on the house i was short on some funds so i again turned to Mr, Leite for a pretty big advance on my pay and he never even questioned twice just came thru for me and my family. Yesterday an ex co-worker send me this link so i felt that some of this comments were not correct. I have worked at restaurants for over 20 years from line cook to manager and this organization is well run much better than most of my experiences. I will be forwarding this link to others that i worked with there, that i know have the same opinion as i do, so expect more of this. If there was an issue with payments or miss calculation on classification what might be, from what i know of both owners they will take care of it, Jim P. - ex employee of Iron Abbey.
SmiLey October 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM
I'm embarassed that a restaurant like this is in our little town of Horsham! I liked NaBrasa, but I just cannot support a business that takes advantage of the blue collar worker! NaBrasa/Iron Abbey is NOT cheap & I would bet the owners make quite a good living off the hard work of their employees. Dissapointed that owners of ANY business would treat their employees like this, even more upset that it is a small local business (who I normally LOVE to support!). C'mon Leite, don't you know that when your employees are happy, your customers are happy? Sad, sad, sad... But it's nice to know that these employees are getting what they deserved all along! I can't imagine how his business still functions with him screwing over 42 employees! WOW! Another great article Patch!
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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