Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Safety Harbor Resort and Spa violated labor laws, required to pay $30,000 in back wages

SAFETY HARBOR — The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa has paid more than $30,000 in back wages to 37 employees after a federal investigation revealed it violated labor laws, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

Among the spa's Fair Labor Standards Act violations: Resort management failed to pay employees for hours worked before and after their designated shifts and deducted meal periods from their hours, regardless of whether employees took meal breaks.

The 22-acre resort at 105 N Bayshore Drive is also accused of failing to make up the difference in wages when an employee's direct cash wages from the resort plus tips didn't amount to minimum wage. The resort also violated the law when it calculated time-and-a-half overtime pay on the direct cash wage instead of the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the department said.

The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division launched the investigation late last year and looked at a two-year period of wages dating back to 2010. The resort paid employees the back wages during an eight-month period that ended in October.

"It is illegal for an employer to falsify the number of hours worked by employees," said James Schmidt, the Tampa office's Wage and Hour Division director.

The Safety Harbor resort's violations reflect a nationwide trend the Department of Labor has noted within the hospitality industry.

Since 2009, officials have investigated nearly 5,100 cases involving motels and hotels nationwide, affecting more than 30,000 workers and resulting in more than $16.1 million in back wages, the department said.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid at least the minimum hourly wage of $7.25, as well as time and a half for hours worked beyond a 40-hour week.

The resort did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, a historic landmark in downtown Safety Harbor, overlooks Old Tampa Bay and houses a fitness center, tennis courts and three pools, according to its website.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at (727) 445-4157 or [email protected]

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