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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [08/21/2012]
Contact Name: Deanne Amaden
Phone Number: (415) 625-2630
Release Number: 12-1558-SAN

Los Angeles-area restaurant chain agrees to pay nearly $90,000 in back wages, liquidated damages following US Labor Department investigation

Violations found at restaurants in Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, Duarte, Alhambra and South Pasadena

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Labor has reached an agreement with Señor Fish Inc. resolving alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions. The restaurant chain has agreed to pay 74 current and former employees $56,777 in back wages and $33,154 in liquidated damages according to the terms of the settlement.

The agreement resulted from an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that determined Señor Fish underpaid workers at five restaurants in Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, Duarte, Alhambra and South Pasadena. Employees were paid "straight time" for all hours worked and did not receive an overtime premium for hours worked beyond 40 per week as required. In addition, the employer failed to record cash payments made to its employees.

"We want to send a message to those employers in violation of the law that they cannot run their businesses at the expense of their employees' pay," said Priscilla Garcia, director of the division's West Covina District Office, which conducted the investigation. "This responsibility goes beyond paying back what they owe; we will seek liquidated damages and take other enforcement measures to make sure employers understand that there are serious consequences to violating federal law."

As a part of the settlement, Wage and Hour Division staff will provide training to Señor Fish employees on the requirements of the FLSA in both English and Spanish during employees' regular work hours. Señor Fish will complete an installation of a computerized timekeeping system. Additionally, the restaurant chain will post links to the Labor Department's website so that employees can access information about labor laws and to the department's free timesheet application, available in English and Spanish, which enables employees to record the hours they work. The app is available at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dol-timesheet/id433638193?mt=8.

The Wage and Hour Division learned of the restaurants' practices through its participation in the Employment Education and Outreach partnership, known as EMPLEO. Now in its eighth year, EMPLEO is an alliance of organizations and government agencies that assists Spanish-speaking workers and employers with work-related concerns. The EMPLEO toll-free helpline, 877-55-AYUDA (552-9832), is staffed by trained volunteers from the Diocese of San Bernardino's Catholic Charities Center and the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate, who refer callers to EMPLEO partners for assistance.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt 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 bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

Information on establishments investigated will be included in the division's enforcement database, which can be viewed online at http://ogesdw.dol.gov, and also is accessible via the "Eat Shop Sleep" smartphone application, which can be found on the Labor Department's app Web page, http://www.dol.gov/dol/apps/.

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 its West Covina office at 626-966-0478. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.