Labor Department sues Fargo hotel owner for wage violations
FARGO - The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Fargo-based owner of multiple hotels, arguing he owes $200,000 in back pay and damages for depriving almost 200 employees of fair wages over a two-year period.
FARGO – The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Fargo-based owner of multiple hotels, arguing he owes $200,000 in back pay and damages for depriving almost 200 employees of fair wages over a two-year period.
Fargo-based businessman Bharat I. Patel is accused of improperly compensating 192 employees at 13 hotels in North Dakota and Montana in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Patel’s accounting practices resulted in some employees receiving less than the federal minimum wage and no additional pay for overtime work, according to the civil complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.
The Department of Labor alleges that Patel was well aware of labor laws and intentionally violated them. According to the complaint, Patel has been investigated multiple times by the North Dakota Wage and Hour Division, an agency under the state’s Department of Labor and Human Rights that enforces wage and hour laws.
Charles Frasier, district director for the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in Denver, said in a statement about the lawsuit that “the hospitality industry is staffed by hard-working, low paid employees who deserve fair compensation for their hours” and that “the Wage and Hour Division will use every tool available to ensure workers receive the wages they earned.”
The lawsuit involves employees at five Fargo hotels owned by Patel: Econo Lodge East, Econo Lodge West, Fargo Quality Inn, Super 8 Fargo and Quality Suites.
Others include Hampton Inn and Suites in Jamestown; Travel Inn, Super 8 Motel and Travel Host Motel, which operates as the Relax Inn in Dickinson; Super 8 in Valley City; Rodeway Inn in Wahpeton; and the Super 8 Glendive and Comfort Inn in Glendive, Mont.
The Department of Labor says the employees are owed $100,000 in unpaid wages and overtime that should have been paid between Dec. 17, 2011, and Dec. 16, 2013, as well as $100,000 in damages.
Patel could not be reached for comment.