Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor secures more than $140,000 in back wages for 66 employees of Mexican restaurant chain in eastern Tennessee
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Las Margaritas Inc. and owner Abdon Antonio Vazquez have agreed to pay $140,711 in back wages to 66 eastern Tennessee employees after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation identified violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The investigation conducted by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division found that workers in the company’s restaurants in Athens and Cleveland, Tenn., were not receiving overtime payments when they worked more than 40 hours in a week and the company was failing to keep accurate records.
“Restaurant cooks would be paid straight-time wages for all hours worked even when they were regularly working more than 40 hours in a week, while wait staff would receive only their tips even when those resulted in payments of less than the federal minimum wage,” said Oliver Peebles III, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator for the Southeast. “The U.S. Department of Labor will use all available tools, including litigation, to ensure that workers receive wages to which they are legally entitled.”
The agreement follows the filing of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Chattanooga Division, by the department’s Office of the Solicitor. As part of the consent judgment, the defendants agree not to violate the FLSA in the future.
The restaurant industry regularly employs low-wage workers who are unlikely to complain because they are unaware of the protections provided to them under U.S. laws. The Wage and Hour Division has launched strategic enforcement initiatives across the country aimed at reducing the alarming number of violations occurring at restaurants. These efforts are not limited solely to enforcement. They include outreach to workers and education for employers so both are aware of various laws and how to comply with them.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained. The current federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.
For more information about the FLSA’s requirements, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Knoxville Area Office in Tennessee at 865-545-4619 or the division’s national toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). More information is also available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
Solis v. Las Margaritas Inc.
Civil Action File Number 1:10-cv-00288
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