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Meers Burger Restaurant forced to pay $335,687 in back wages and fines for labor violations…

7:28 AM EDT on May 29, 2018

Back in January of 2016, the Department of Labor announced they were investigating Meers Store and Restaurant – a historic, rundown, road-side dive that serves award-winning longhorn burgers outside of Lawton – for minimum wage violations, overtime violations, child labor violations and record keeping violations.

Here's what a defiant owner told the Lawton Constitution at the time:

Joe Maranto emphatically denies the claims and calls them "old stuff." He says the filing was timed because the law covering the allegations has a three-year statute of limitations and after Jan. 1 the plaintiff would not have been able to include calendar year 2012 in the suit.

"I lawyered up, and I think that is what has upset the Labor Department," he said. "Most people, when this sort of thing happens, they just sort of roll over and play dead, but they don't have anything on me, to speak of."

Despite "lawerying up," it looks like the Labor Department did have some stuff on Meers... to speak of. Over the weekend, the agency ordered Meers to pay $335,687 in back wages and fines to 84 current and former employees.

Here are more details via KSWO:

The Department of Labor, said in a press release, that the owner of Meers Store & Restaurant Inc. has to pay several hundred thousand dollars in back wages and liquidated damages to nearly 100 employees. This comes following a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation.

The Department of Labor said the store, Meers Store & Restaurant Inc., and owner, Margaret Maranto, has been ordered to pay $335,687 in back wages and liquidated damages to 84 employees for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma also found owner Maranto in violation of the FLSA's child labor provisions. Investigators say she didn't comply with the child labor law. A $42,190 civil money penalty has also been assessed.

“Employees are entitled to receive all wages they have legally earned, and minors deserve the workplace protections put in place for them by law,” said Betty Campbell, Wage and Hour Division Administrator. “This case demonstrates the Department of Labor’s commitment not only to workers but also to providing employers the tools they need to comply with the law. Our work levels the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”

Officials said table bussers relied on tips alone and employees who worked over 40-hours didn't get time and a half pay.

Back in 2013, Meers made the obscure local social blog news circuit when they blamed Obama and socialism for an increase in national hamburger bun prices, which they claimed forced them to raise prices on their famous hamburgers. Considering the labor investigation stems back to allegations made in 2012, maybe the hamburger price increase was due to the restaurant realizing they needed to follow basic labor laws and pay their employees fair wages. Socialism sure is a bitch.

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