AG: Restaurateur to pay $145K in restitution to workers for violating wage and hour laws 

  • The Hangar Pub and Grill on University Drive in Amherst, home to Wings Over Amherst. Photographed on Thursday, June 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hangar Pub and Grill on University Drive in Amherst, home to Wings Over Amherst. Photographed on Thursday, June 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hangar Pub and Grill on University Drive in Amherst, home to Wings Over Amherst. Photographed on Thursday, June 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/6/2019 4:26:18 PM
Modified: 6/6/2019 4:26:06 PM

AMHERST — A businessman who operates the Wings Over delivery business from The Hangar in Amherst, as well as locations in Greenfield, Westfield and Chicopee, is being ordered by Attorney General Maura Healey to pay $144,802 in restitution and penalties for violating Massachusetts wage and hour laws.

Harold Tramazzo has agreed to reimburse 147 workers at those four Wings Over establishments after Healey’s office determined he failed to provide compensation for the mileage workers accumulated by using their personal vehicles for work from January 2017 to March 2019. Workers will receive $844 on average as a result of the agreement.

Healey said in a statement that laws ensure all employees are paid fairly in Massachusetts.

“We are pleased that this business has agreed to pay workers the wages they are owed,” Healey said.

Tramazzo said Thursday that he agreed to the settlement, even though he maintains all drivers have been paid above the minimum wage for tipped employees.

“The Attorney General’s office felt that we did not pay our drivers enough to compensate them fully,” Tramazzo said. “It’s their interpretation and we’ve come to an agreement.”

Tramazzo added that there was no effort to not compensate employees. He opened his first chicken wings delivery service in 1999.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I stand by how we treat people,” Tramazzo said. “This was only a small discrepancy in each driver’s wage. We have always strived to pay our employees fairly and this amount was immediately paid to all and future pay adjusted.”

According to Healey’s office, the investigation began after complaints were lodged alleging wage violations for delivery drivers employed at the four Wings Over locations. Investigators discovered delivery drivers were not reimbursed for mileage expenses even though they were required to make deliveries using their own vehicles.

The Attorney General’s office maintains that employers are currently required to pay the federal rate of 58 cents for each mile an employee drives while on the company clock. 

Northampton attorney James Winston, though, said employers are not required to reimburse for mileage separately as long as employees are being paid at least state minimum wage for the time they are driving to make a delivery, visit a client or handling some other appointment. Under state law, employers cannot require employees to use their own vehicles within the scope of their employment and not reimburse them for mileage expenses.

If an employee’s pay falls below minimum wage by not receiving that compensation, that is when a fair labor violation occurs, Winston said. There is no federal law forcing private businesses to reimburse mileage, but state laws exist. 

The investigation, handled by Assistant Attorney Amy Goyer and Investigator Christina Proietti, both of the Fair Labor Division, found that one driver was underpaid by as much as $8,700 for mileage expenses.

Since the matter concluded, mileage reimbursements at the Wings Over restaurants began in April, according to Healey’s office.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy