News Brief

US Department of Labor recovers $391K in back wages, damages for 31 workers denied minimum wage, overtime by Columbia employer

Read this news release En Español.

Employers:     Garibaldi Restaurant LLC, operating as Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant

                         285 Columbiana Drive, Columbia, SC 29212

                         Supermercado El Mariachi LLC, operating as Supermercado El Mariachi – West Columbia

                         1078 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia, SC 29169

                         Supermercado El Mariachi 3 LLC, operating as Supermercado El Mariachi

                         1735 Decker Blvd., Columbia, SC 29206

Investigation findings: U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found two supermarkets and one restaurant – all owned in part by Jose Luis Telez – paid employees a fixed weekly salary for all hours worked. By doing so, the employer incurred a minimum wage violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act when workers’ salaries failed to meet the federal minimum wage for all hours worked. The employees’ salaries also did not include the required time-and-one-half rate for hours over 40 in a workweek, leading to overtime violations.

In addition, the agency found that the employer failed to pay some tipped servers at Garibaldi Restaurant at least the federal minimum wage. This violation occurred when the servers did not receive sufficient tips to cover the amount of the tip credit taken by the employer, resulting in their average hourly rate falling below $7.25 per hour and invalidating the employer’s tip credit. 

Back wages and liquidated damages recovered: The division recovered $391,935 in back wages and liquidated damages for 31 workers.                           

Quote: “Employers must use the existing federal and state laws in place that guide processes for paying workers, not misguided pay practices,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division with questions they may have on properly paying workers the wages they earned.”

Background: Employers can contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including its search tool to learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division and an overview about the FLSA protections for restaurant workers. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and IOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish.  

Wage and Hour Division
October 30, 2023
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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