Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant has agreed to pay a total of $459,130 to 28 employees for various Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) violations including unpaid overtime, minimum wage and recordkeeping provisions following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation. Los Arcos and its owner, Alberto Reyes, reached the agreement with the DOL after investigators found the restaurant paid cooks and dishwashers fixed salaries without regard to the number of hours they actually worked, which resulted in overtime violations when these employees worked more than 40 hours in a week without additional overtime payment as well as minimum wage violations when they worked so many hours that their salaries failed to cover $7.25 per hour. Additionally, the investigations found that Los Arcos required wait staff to work only for tips (resulting in minimum wage and overtime violations), reduced workers’ pay below minimum wage by charging employees for mandatory uniforms, and failed to maintain required time and payroll records.
The $459,130 settlement agreement includes $229,565 in back wages and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages for all affected employees who worked at either of the two restaurants.
A spokesman of the Department of Labor’s Columbia, South Carolina office stated, “The violations found in this case are all too common in the restaurant industry. These workers deserve to take home every penny they legally earned, and employers who play by the rules deserve a level playing field. The department will use every tool necessary to achieve compliance and to protect workers’ right – including the assessment of liquidated damages, and taking legal action when necessary.”