WASHINGTON — Hundreds of cafeteria workers who help feed senators and others in the Capitol and nearby office buildings will share back pay of more than $1 million because their private employers illegally underpaid them, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division said it is reviewing whether the two federal contractors – Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus – should be barred from future government contracts.

“Workers in the restaurant industry are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy,” David Weil, the division’s administrator, said. “Most struggle to afford life’s basic expenses and pay their bills. They shouldn’t have to deal with paychecks that don’t accurately reflect their hard work.”

The division said the contractors were classifying Senate cafeteria workers for lower-paid jobs than they should have and forced them to report to work before their scheduled start times, without pay. It said they were not paying required health and welfare benefits, paying proper overtime or keeping complete records.

The required minimum wage for federal contractors is $10.15 hourly, and many of the cooks, waiters, janitors and others have been paid less than $11 hourly. Some workers have not been paid when Congress is in recess, and many have second jobs.

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