Tillie's

Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff

Two men work inside the emptied-out Tillie’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar on Court Street in Keene Friday.

A Keene business was assessed $3,000 in fines by the state labor department last month, less than a week before closing its doors.

Stephen J. Bentley and Tabatha T. Eisner, both of Keene, opened Tillie’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar on Court Street in April. Bentley said Friday morning they closed the establishment Dec. 22.

“... While we had great reviews from our patrons unfortunately the overall volume of business would not sustain our overhead,” Bentley wrote in a text message.

The N.H. Department of Labor wrapped up a two-month-long inspection into Tillie’s just five days prior to the restaurant closing.

Neither Bentley nor Eisner responded to requests for comment Friday night before press time.

The inspection report, dated Dec. 17, details 75 violations found at the establishment, which employed 12 people.

Thirty-three of the violations involve employee wages. On 22 pay periods, employees were paid late and not on the scheduled payday, according to the report.

Six employees weren’t paid everything they were owed, the report continues, and another five weren’t compensated for short rests. (The U.S. Department of Labor defines a “short rest” as five to 20 minutes and dictates that this must be counted as time worked.)

Attached to the report is a list of 18 employees owed wages, with amounts ranging from $5.54 to more than $700. In total, the employer owed $2,709.43 in back wages. Dated Dec. 14, the list includes instructions for Tillie’s to send checks for the amounts to the Department of Labor within 10 days of receiving the list.

A small part of the owed wages is because of a technicality in state law that says an employee must be compensated for at least two hours of work on a given day. Someone may request to leave early due to illness or a family emergency, however, and if they leave after working less than two hours, they must write an explanation and initial it for their file.

Because 16 employees weren’t paid the two-hour minimum and didn’t have written explanations for leaving work early, according to the report, that tacks on another 16 violations and additional owed wages.

Among other violations, the report says Tillie’s failed to keep “a true and accurate record of hours worked by employees.” None of the 12 employee files contained written notification of pay period and rate of pay at hiring, as required by state law, according to the report.

Rudolph W. Ogden, deputy commissioner at the N.H. Department of Labor, wrote in an email Friday that the initially assessed penalty for the violations was $3,300, but he added that “the matter has not been concluded as of yet.”

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @SierraHubbardKS.