Five Mexican restaurants in Central Florida with the same ownership will pay $83,577 in back wages to 91 employees for violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The restaurants will also paid $21,266 in penalties for repeated violations.
Investigators from the Department of Labor found the restaurants failed to pay tipped employees the federal minimum wage for all the hours that they worked after their rounding practices resulted in time worked not being compensated. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a restaurant can take a “tip credit” towards its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees equal to the difference between the required cash wage, which must be at least $2.13 under the FLSA, and the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. It is important to note that certain states provide a higher minimum wage for servers, including New York, where the minimum wage for tipped workers is $10.00 in certain parts of the state.
The investigation also found that the restaurants paid cooks flat salaries, without regard to the number of hours that they actually worked. This practice resulted in overtime violations when those employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and were not paid overtime wages. The restaurant practiced a policy of paying overtime after 80 hours in two workweeks, instead of after 40 hours in a single workweek, which resulted in additional overtime violations.
"Employers must pay employees all the wages they have legally earned," said a representative from the Department of Labor. "We encourage employers to contact their local office for the resources available to explain their responsibilities and how to avoid violations."