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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [05/21/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-0392-DEN

Restaurant chain in Colorado to pay more than $73,000 in back wages to kitchen staff at 6 locations following US Labor Department investigation

DENVER — Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill will pay $73,132 in minimum and overtime back wages to 58 current and former cooks and dishwashers after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions at six restaurants in Colorado.

"Investigators found that employees worked as many as 55 hours in a week without receiving proper minimum wage and overtime compensation. This employer practice is unacceptable and illegal," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "The restaurant industry employs many low-wage and vulnerable workers, such as those with limited English proficiency and others who are not aware of their rights under federal law. We are pleased that these workers finally will be paid their rightful wages."

An investigation by the division's Denver District Office found that employees were underpaid, which resulted from the practice of misclassifying nonexempt salaried employees as exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements. Employees did not meet the qualifications for exemption. Additionally, the employer did not keep accurate records of employees' hours worked.

Investigators found systemic violations at restaurants in the following cities: Woodland Park, where two employees are owed $2,904; Frisco, where 16 employees are due $16,132; Castle Rock, where 10 employees are due $14,639; Littleton, where 11 employees are due $17,403; and Colorado Springs (two restaurants), where 19 employees are due a combined total of $22,054.

Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill, a full-service restaurant chain that employs about 100 workers collectively at the locations listed, cooperated with the investigation and has agreed to fully comply with the FLSA in the future. Payment of the back wages owed is ongoing.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are also required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's Denver office at 720-264-3250. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.