Three Restaurants Must Pay $391,000 in Employee Back Wages

The South Carolina San Jose Mexican restaurants owe 37 employees hundreds or thousands of dollars in back wages.

Three restaurants in South Carolina have been ordered to pay $391,000 in back wages to workers, as the result of a Department of Labor investigation. The restaurants, all individually owned branches of the San Jose Mexican restaurant chain, owe 37 employees wages for overtime and minimum wages. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division also found violations in record-keeping provisions.

Following widespread noncompliance in the state’s restaurant industry, the Wage and Hour Division began a multiyear enforcement initiative. Since 2009, more than $2.5 million has been paid to workers, following 2,500 investigations.

"We found many low-wage and vulnerable workers employed at all three San Jose Mexican restaurant locations. Many of them worked long hours, sometimes averaging 63 hours a week, but earned far below the federal minimum wage and no overtime compensation," said Michelle Garvey, director of the division's Columbia office, in a statement on the Department of Labor website. "We are pleased that these workers finally will be paid their rightful wages, and through the efforts of our ongoing enforcement initiative, the Wage and Hour Division continues to focus on South Carolina restaurants to protect workers against widespread labor violations and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers."

All three of the restaurants failed to properly compensate employees. Servers were paid below the mandated $2.13 per hour and made to rely on tips for pay. Other employees were paid flat salaries below the minimum wage requirements, with no regard to hours worked.

“In addition to paying the back wages owed in this case, the restaurants agreed to maintain future compliance with the FLSA by keeping accurate records of employees' work hours, wages and other required employment information; paying all employees at least the federal minimum wage; and providing overtime compensation and informing employees in advance that the tip credit will be used,” according to the DOL website.

More information can be found regard this case on the DOL website.

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