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Azteca Restaurante Mexicano agrees to pay more than $45,000 in back wages, damages to 18 workers following US Department of Labor investigation
Company will also pay $9,450 in civil money penalties
AKRON, Ohio Azteca Restaurante Mexicano Inc. and Salvador B. Alatorre, manager and part-owner of the Akron establishment, have agreed to pay $45,781 in back wages and liquidated damages to 18 employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The investigation found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions. The department filed a consent order and judgment in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, stipulating the terms of the settlement.
The investigation determined that Azteca Restaurante Mexicano paid some non-exempt workers — including bussers, cooks and dishwashers — flat weekly salaries instead of hourly wages. Violations occurred when these salaries, paid without regard to the numbers of hours employees worked, did not equal at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and did not include overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. These employees were found to regularly work 60 or more hours per week. Servers employed by the company were also not paid time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked over 40 in a week, as required by the FLSA. The company also failed to maintain accurate pay and time records.
"Some of these employees were paid as little as $350 a week for 60 hours of labor," said George Victory, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Columbus Area Office. "We are committed to protecting the many vulnerable workers employed in the restaurant industry and will vigorously pursue violators to ensure compliance with the law. This case should send a clear message to other employers that they should take steps to ensure that they are paying their employees properly."
Based on a previous investigation of the full-service restaurant and bar by the Wage and Hour Division, the company was assessed $9,450 in civil money penalties. Liquidated damages were also assessed, in addition to the back wages found due.
The consent judgment entered in federal court in Akron enjoins Azteca Restaurante Mexicano and Alatorre from violating the FLSA in the future.
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 for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In accordance with the FLSA, an employer of a tipped employee is required to pay no less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages provided that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages do not equal the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Employers also are required to provide employees notice of the FLSA tip credit provisions, to maintain accurate time and payroll records and to comply with the hours, hazardous orders and other restrictions applying to workers under age 18.
The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.
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 visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/.