A central Pennsylvania restaurant chain has agreed to pay nearly $150,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which alleged that the restaurants shorted its employees on minimum wage and overtime pay, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The lawsuit against Montezuma, which specializes in Mexican cuisine and has restaurants in Chambersburg, Waynesboro and Gettysburg, alleged that the restaurant wasn’t paying bussers and servers the required minimum wage rates. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that Montezuma charged the workers for the company shirts they were required to wear, causing their pay to dip below the minimum wage.
According to attorneys for the workers, the restaurants alleged improperly classified six kitchen managers and head chefs as salaried workers exempt from overtime pay. This resulted in these employees, who were incorrectly paid fixed salaries, working between 50- to 60-hours a week and not receiving overtime wages. Under the FLSA, non-exempt kitchen workers must be paid at a rate of time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 per week. In addition, the DOL claimed that the restaurants failed to keep accurate records of employees’ work hours as required by law.
Montezuma will have 30 days to pay $147,508, the amount the Department of Labor investigators determined is due the restaurants’ employees as a result of this wage theft.
Pennsylvania restaurants have been increasingly hit with wage theft lawsuits by workers who have been cheated out of their minimum wage and overtime pay. Pechman Law Group were the lead attorneys for the lawsuit against Chickie’s & Pete’s, the Philly sports bar chain, that resulted in a record 1.68 million dollar settlement for 90 waiters and waitresses.