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February 7, 2023

Cape Elizabeth cafe pays $51K to settle federal labor violations

C Salt Gourmet Market building exterior Photo / Renee Cordes C Salt Gourmet Market is located at 349 Ocean House Road in Cape Elizabeth, near the local high school.

C Salt Gourmet Market LLC in Cape Elizabeth has paid $51,000 to resolve federal labor violations, including allowing managers to participate in the tip pool and letting minors work excess hours, with dangerous equipment.

A total of 86 current and former employees are due back wages for the two-year period of investigation, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor in Boston.

Owners of the business, which opened in 2014, said they have "enacted changes" to comply with ever-changing employment laws and are working with federal officials to ensure that all employees are paid what they're owed.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hours Division found that the upscale cafe and market at 349 Ocean House Road improperly included managers in the employees' tip pool and did not pay two workers proper overtime for hours clocked over 40 during a work week. 

Federal investigators also found the employer permitted 10 workers, ages 14 and 15, to work hours exceeding federal legal limits; and allowed 14- and 15-year-olds to use an oven and a 15-year-old to use a deep-fat fryer not equipped with devices to automatically raise and lower the fry baskets, which are violations of child labor occupations standards.

In addition, three 14- and 15-year-olds cleaned and operated a power-driven meat slicer, which is prohibited for workers under age 18 by the Fair Labor Standards Act's Hazardous Occupations orders.

To resolve the violations, the division received $18,053 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages from the current and former affected employees. C Salt Market also paid $14,928 in civil penalties to the department for the youth employment violations, bringing the total amount paid to $51,000.

“The types of wage and youth employment violations found in this investigation are too common in the food services industry, yet they are preventable,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney, who is based in Manchester, N.H. “We urge northern New England employers and workers alike to review the Wage and Hour Division’s extensive online compliance assistance toolkits and to contact our office with any questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s wage and child labor protections.”

Owners' response 

Mike and Stephanie Concannon, C Salt's owners, issued a statement via Facebook regarding the settlement.

"C Salt has always prided itself on being a family-owned business that treats its employees and customers with respect," they said in Monday's post. "This past year, C Salt was alerted by the Department of Labor to violations of employment regulations of which we were unaware. As soon as C Salt was alerted to these issues, we did a comprehensive examination of our practices and enacted changes to follow the ever-changing employment laws, as well as working with the Department of Labor to ensure that all employees received every dollar to which they were entitled."

The statement added: "Our efforts in this regard underscored our commitment to being an employer of choice in Cape Elizabeth, and we will continue to look for ways to make our employee experience beneficial, while ensuring that our customers are provided the best food and service in the area." 

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Diane Lukac
February 9, 2023

These tasks being undertaken by minors are completely inappropriate. The science shows that their brains are not developed enough to operate hazardous machinery especially while working extended hours. Injury of some of the worst kinds have been known to occur under these conditions. The US Bureau of Labour Wage & Hour is all these children have to protect them from just such a possibility. And although the result may seen harsh and remote, even one such injury is too much to bear.

Diane Lukac
February 9, 2023

These violations are not insignificant, especially those where minors operator hazardous equipment and work longer hours than permitted. There are proven reason in history why these tasks result in accidents--some serious. The science shows that the brain of children is not developed enough to handle these tasks and can get distracted easily resulting at times in serious injury. The US Department of Wage of Labor was there to protect them even if this seems overkill to some.

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