AKRON, OH– The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and an Akron restaurant have reached an agreement to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including payment of $59,177 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – totaling $118,354 – owed to 21 workers.
Division investigators found Azteca Restaurante Mexicano Inc. and its named owner, Salvador Alatorre, failed to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and recording-keeping provisions. The Division assessed a civil money penalty of $9,646 for willful and repeated violations.
“Failing to pay workers a legal wage is not only wrong, but it allows companies to gain an unfair advantage over competitors who abide by the law,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director George Victory, in Columbus. “Wage violations can be avoided, and we encourage companies to reach out to us for guidance.”
Investigators found Azteca Restaurante Mexicano paid kitchen staff fixed salaries, ranging from $550 to $675 per week, without regard to how many hours they worked. This practice resulted in failure to pay required overtime when these employees worked more than 40 hours in a week. The restaurant also illegally deducted 3 percent of servers’ credit card sales from their tips, resulting in some servers receiving less than the minimum wage. The Division found the company computed overtime for servers based only on their cash wages instead of the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, resulting in additional overtime violations. When the employer failed to record and pay for some of the hours employees worked, more overtime violations resulted.
Under terms of the agreement, Azteca Restaurante Mexicano has implemented a computerized time-keeping system in addition to paying the back wages, liquidated damages, and penalties.
A 2011 investigation by the Division disclosed minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping violations at Azteca. The restaurant then paid back wages, liquidated damages, and a civil money penalty.
Workers and employers with questions about the FLSA and all of the federal wage laws administered by the Division should call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). All calls are confidential. More information is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.