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News Release

El Tio Tex-Mex Grill to Pay Back Wages and Damages Following U.S. Department of Labor Investigation

BALTIMORE, MD – In a consent judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a full-service family restaurant with establishments in the District of Columbia and Virginia will pay $848,006 in back wages and liquidated damages to 209 employees for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.

The court’s action follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) that determined Mejia Corp. – doing business as El Tio Tex-Mex Grill – violated the overtime and minimum wage requirements of the FLSA.

WHD investigators determined that the company failed to pay some of its tipped employeesprimarily bussers and food runnersminimum wage or overtime as the law requires. When tipped employees worked beyond 80 hours in a pay period, the employer paid them no wages, leaving those workers to receive only their tips for those hours. Additionally, El Tio Tex-Mex Grill failed to pay kitchen staff overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Instead, the employer paid those workers at straight-time rates, for those hours. Payroll records reflected falsified rates attempting to create the appearance that the employer had paid overtime. The investigation found violations at El Tio Tex-Mex Grill restaurants in Washington, D.C. and in Gainesville, Falls Church, McLean and Great Falls, Virginia.

“This employer failed to pay workers the wages they had legally earned, and then attempted to conceal that violation,” said Wage and Hour District Director Nicholas Fiorello, in Baltimore, Maryland. “Other employers in this industry should use the resolution of this case as an opportunity to review their own pay practices to ensure they comply with the law and avoid such violations. Workers who face similar circumstances or anyone with questions should call us to speak confidentially with a trained wage and hour professional.”

In addition to paying the back wages and damages, the judgment prohibits El Tio Tex-Mex Grill from future violations of any FLSA provisions.

“This consent judgment will help to ensure that these employees are paid the wages they have rightfully earned, and that employers in the restaurant industry operate on a level playing field,” said Philadelphia Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III.

WHD is committed to providing employers with the tools they need to assist them in fulfilling their obligation to understand and comply with the variety of laws the Division enforces. Employers that 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 federal wage laws, call the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

WHD's mission 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 paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, 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.

 

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
December 2, 2020
Release Number
20-2105-PHI
Contact: Leni Fortson
Contact: Joanna Hawkins
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