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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [01/03/2012]
Contact Name: Juan Rodriguez or Elizabeth Todd
Phone Number: (972) 850-4709 or x4710
Release Number: 11-1755-DAL

Los Agaves Mexican Restaurant pays more than $74,000 in back wages to 28 workers at 4 Arkansas locations following US Labor Department investigation

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Los Agaves Mexican Restaurant of Hot Springs has paid $74,413 in back wages to 28 current and former servers, cooks and dishwashers following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime provisions were found at the restaurant's Nashville, Glenwood, Murfreesboro and Prescott locations.

"The restaurant industry employs some of our country's most vulnerable workers who, especially during difficult economic times, are susceptible to exploitation," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "The Wage and Hour Division is committed to bringing these employers into compliance, ensuring that employees receive the minimum wage and overtime wages to which they are legally entitled, and leveling the playing field for law-abiding employers.

An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division's Little Rock District Office found that the company misclassified employees as exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements, resulting in wages falling below the required rates. The company paid nonexempt employees flat salaries without regard to hours worked, and failed to pay them time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Tipped employees also did not receive the proper overtime rate but were paid "straight time" for all hours worked. Additionally, the company failed to maintain the required records.

Investigators found that the company owed a total of $17,508 to seven Nashville employees, $22,402 to eight Glenwood employees, $20,355 to seven Murfreesboro employees and $14,148 to six Prescott employees. Los Agaves cooperated with the investigation and has agreed to future compliance with the FLSA. Back wages have been paid in full.

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. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.

For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Little Rock office at 501-223-9114. Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.