Golden Gate Restaurant Group Inc., a Burger King franchise with six San Francisco-area restaurants, was recently fined $2.2 million by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Now, Colin Calvert, an attorney for the restaurant group, is speaking out about the “poorly executed” investigation.
Calvert told the San Francisco Chronicle that the accusations levied against Golden Gate Group were loaded with inconsistencies and missing details regarding events that allegedly happened years ago.
The allegations included claims that employees worked unpaid hours or that the facilities were deliberately understaffed. Many of the claims didn’t add up, but the Labor Commissioner’s ruling said those inconsistencies didn’t matter.
“Having created a situation in which, without accurate and complete records, employees were forced, years after the fact, to recollect which dates and times they worked at each location, how often they received meal or rest breaks … appellants [Golden Gate Restaurant Group] cannot benefit from the confusion and difficulty they created,” the commissioner stated in the decision.
In other words, the state of California is going to slap a small franchise with a $2.2 million fine for failing to keep detailed records of every employee lunch break that happened years and years ago – even if the employees cannot keep their story straight about how their rights were allegedly violated.
Golden Gate Group, like many other California businesses, closed up shop and left the state because of its burdensome business regulations. This fine is just another insult by the state on its way out the door.
This is a great example of how California regulators use their 1,100-page labor code as a weapon against business owners. They jump at the opportunity to smear employers as “wage thieves” and hit them with massive fines for even the slightest error in following the complex legal code.
If the state regulators cared about California workers, they’d work with businesses to ensure every worker is protected. Instead, they wait for a mistake to be made and pounce on the opportunity to stick it to employers.
The result is that all of the dozens of workers Golden Gate Group employed are now out of the job and the company has taken its efforts to a state where they won’t be villainized.
By “helping workers,” California regulators are chasing their jobs out of the state. That’s not helping anyone.