EDITORS NOTE: A US Department of Labor press release incorrectly identified the name of the hotel in the lawsuit. The name has been removed from this article.
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) —A federal lawsuit filed accuses a Pigeon Forge hotel operator and its owner violated labor laws by denying workers wages and employing minors, two of whom were allegedly under the age of 12.
The US Department of Labor lawsuit against Pigeon Forge Hospitality LLC and Nimesh Patel, operator of a hotel in Pigeon Forge, was filed on January 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The US Department of Labor alleges that the company “willfully and repeatedly” failed to pay employees minimum wage and that the employees were also not compensated for overtime.
The department also says in the lawsuit that the company employed two minors under the age of 12 since at least March 2021, and that a 15-year-old was employed for baking and cooking activities, which is considered a hazardous occupation under federal law.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will not allow employers, such as Pigeon Forge Hospitality LLC, to exploit workers and endanger minor-aged children,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. “Employers who willfully violate labor laws at the expense of employees and competitors must understand that we will do everything within our rights, including litigation, to bring them to justice.”
The Department of Labor is seeking to stop the withholding of payment to employees, to award back wages for a period of three years prior to June 6, 2021, and to award employees additional equal amount of liquidated damages.
Neither Pigeon Forge Hospitality LLC nor Nimesh Patel have responded to the lawsuit at the time this story was published.