A New Haven County sports bar formerly located in Milford, Champions Grill and Bar, was ordered to pay employees a total of $359,485 in back pay, emotional distress damages, withheld compensation, and punitive damages for violating provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act, the US Department of Labor announced on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
The order follows a lawsuit filed by the department in February 2022 against the business and its owner, Loren Drotos, who is also known as Mark Roberts, Mark Drotos, and Mark Lawrence.
According to this lawsuit, in January 2022, the business threatened an employee who asked to be paid the compensation they had earned and also unlawfully fired employees who participated in an OSHA inspection.
Officials also said that after the employees were fired for exercising federally protected rights, the business also sent a message to remaining workers saying that they should not talk to anyone from the Department of Labor.
The business has since closed since these allegations occurred.
A court eventually accepted these allegations as true and issued an order to the business on Friday, Dec. 15 to force them to pay the following to affected employees:
- $6,770 in back pay;
- $2,715 in withheld wages;
- $125,000 in emotional distress damages;
- $225,000 in punitive damages.
The order also stops the business from future violations of federal law.
"Employers who subject their workers to unlawful conduct on multiple fronts, such as unsafe working conditions, unpaid wages, and threats of retaliation, are violating multiple federal employment laws," said Maia Fisher, the department's Regional Solicitor of Labor in Boston.
Fisher continued, "The court’s award of $225,000 in punitive damages and over $359,000 in damages overall sends a clear message that the U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate such behavior. The department’s holistic approach to vindicating workers’ rights is a powerful reminder to employers that retaliation against workers can have costly consequences.”
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