Court enters consent order requiring restaurants to pay $911K in back wages, damages to 99 underpaid workers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire
CONCORD, NH – A federal court has entered a consent order requiring the Concord-based owner and operator of three restaurants in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to pay $911,568 in back wages and liquidated damages to 99 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into their pay practices.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant in Concord and two Casa Tequila restaurants in Seabrook, New Hampshire, and in Salem, Massachusetts; and owner Gilberto Reyes violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements.
In its judgment, entered on March 23, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire requires the employers to pay the affected employees $455,784 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. They must also comply with federal minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements, and cooperate with the department’s investigations. The court also forbid them from threatening or retaliating against employees who cooperate with investigations or otherwise exercise or assert their FLSA rights.
“El Rodeo and Casa Tequila deprived nearly 100 workers of their rightful pay, making it that much harder for these workers to support themselves and provide for their families,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. “The more than $900,000 in wages and damages recovered following this investigation will go a long way towards making these workers whole after the losses they suffered.”
Specifically, division investigators found the employers failed to do the following:
- Pay certain employees for all hours worked and pay some employees at the federal minimum wage.
- Pay certain nonexempt employees such as cooks, dishwashers and bussers, overtime at one-and-one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours over 40 hours in a workweek.
- Combine employees’ hours for overtime purposes when they worked in more than one job category and/or in more than one of the restaurants in the same workweek.
- Properly calculate tipped employees’ overtime rates based on their regular rates of pay, as opposed to their cash wage rates.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of hours worked by and payments made to employees.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will use all available enforcement tools at its disposal to ensure workers like the ones in this case are afforded the protections required by the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston.
The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
“These types of wage violations – too often found in the restaurant industry – are preventable when employers access the available information and resources,” McKinney added. “We strongly encourage employers to reach out to the Wage and Hour Division to better understand their legal responsibilities. We also encourage workers who may have been victims of wage theft to contact our office to explore filing a complaint.”
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of immigration status. The department can speak with callers confidentially in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for i-OS and Android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.