El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant, a Delaware restaurant, has been ordered to pay $128,051 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 20 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 investigation revealed that the restaurant paid servers a cash wage that was less than the federal minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour. Tipped employees can be paid at a “tipped minimum wage” only if they comply with the requirements under the law. According to the Department of Labor, El Tapio had been deducting $1 per hour from employee wages in order to pay another worker who cleaned the restaurant. This resulted in servers receiving less than the applicable minimum wage. It is important to note that although the federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13, certain states have higher tipped minimum wages for workers. New York’s tipped minimum wage ranges from $7.50 to $10.00 per hour, depending on the number of employees in the restaurant and the restaurants location.
The Department of Labor also found that the restaurant failed to pay employees overtime wages when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Under the FLSA, restaurant workers should be paid at a rate of time-and-a-half (1.5x) for all the hours they work over 40 in a work week. For example, if a line cook makes $15.00 per hour, any overtime hour worked should be paid at $22.50 per hour.
"Employers are responsible for paying their employees all the wages they have legally earned for all the hours they have worked," said a representative from the Department of Labor. "The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to ensuring employees are paid what they have legally earned, as well as our continued efforts to level the playing field for employers who comply with the law.”