U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in El Paso Mexican Grill Restaurant Paying $654,366 in Back Wages
NEW ORLEANS, LA – As a result of a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation, El Paso Mexican Grill restaurant will pay $654,366 in back wages to 567 employees to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) found at 23 of the employer's locations in Louisiana and Florida.
WHD investigators found the employer violated FLSA minimum wage requirements when it deducted costs for uniforms from workers' pay, and also when it failed to pay them for all of the hours that they worked. The restaurant also paid some kitchen staff flat salaries, without regard to the number of hours that they worked. This practice resulted in overtime violations when those employees worked more than 40 hours in a week but were not paid additional overtime. El Paso Mexican Grill also violated overtime requirements when it paid tipped employees time-and-one-half of their direct cash wages for their overtime hours instead of basing their rates on the full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The employer's failure to keep an accurate record of hours worked by salaried kitchen staff and inaccurate recording of wait staff's earnings violated the FLSA's recordkeeping requirements.
"Companies that fail to pay employees the wages they have legally earned must not gain a competitive advantage over those that comply with the law," said Troy Mouton, Wage and Hour Division New Orleans District Director. "The U.S. Department of Labor encourages restaurant owners and all employers to reach out to their local Wage and Hour Division office for information about how to comply, and to make use of the many tools we offer to explain their responsibilities and how to avoid violations."
The U.S. Department of Labor offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE(487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
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