News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Houston Restaurants Owner Paying $100,000 in Back Wages To Employees

HOUSTON, TX – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the owner of a Houston-based enterprise that operates eight Tostada Regia restaurants in the Houston, Texas, area has paid $100,126 to 438 employees for violating the overtime and minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators found that the employer violated minimum wage requirements when it charged servers for radios that they used to communicate within the restaurant, and for uniforms with the restaurant’s logo. These deductions resulted in employees’ pay dipping below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Additional minimum wage violations resulted when the employer failed to pay workers for short rest breaks, which the law requires to be paid as work time. Overtime violations occurred when the employer calculated overtime based on servers’ direct hourly cash rates, which in some instances were as low as $2.13 per hour, instead of the full federal minimum wage.

“We will continue to ensure that employees are paid all the wages they have legally earned, particularly in restaurants and other low-wage industries,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Robin Mallett in Houston, Texas. “The results of this investigation should encourage other employers to evaluate their pay practices to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. We encourage all employers to call us, confidentially, to speak with a trained Wage and Hour professional to get their questions answered.”

The Department 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, electronic toolkits, and in-person visits to local WHD staff.

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 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.

The Mission of WHD is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
November 14, 2019
Release Number
19-1664-DAL
Contact: Juan Rodriguez
Contact: Chauntra Rideaux
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