The US District Court for Delaware has ordered the operator of El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant in Wilmington to pay $264,560 in back wages and liquidated damages to 20 employees.
The court has passed the order after the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that the company violated the minimum and overtime wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The company will pay an equal amount of $128,051 for both back wages and liquidated damages.
As per the investigation, WHD found that the employer paid the servers a cash wage less than the federal minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour required by the FLSA for tipped employees, who worked between 15 February 2016 and 10 February 2019.
The company deducted $1 per hour from employee wages and used the amount to pay an employee who cleaned the restaurant. It has also failed to pay overtime for employees, who worked more than 40 hours in a week.
US DOL WHD district director James Cain said: “Employers are responsible for paying their employees all the wages they have legally earned for all the hours they have worked.”
Philadelphia regional solicitor Oscar L. Hamption III said: “The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to ensuring employees are paid what they have legally earned, as well as our continued efforts to level the playing field for employers who comply with the law.”
El Tapatio also failed to maintain accurate payroll records as it omitted records of all the hours employees worked each week. It has also failed to post a required FLSA poster.
In addition, the company has been ordered to pay a civil penalty of $8,458 assessed by WHD for the wilful nature of the violations.
El Tapatio currently operates 16 locations in Portland area offering a range of menu items such as tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. It also operates restaurants in Boise, Idaho under El Rancho Viejo brand.