SANTA ROSA, CA — Three Santa Rosa, California area restaurants recently agreed to a settlement with the Labor Department to resolve claims that the companies failed to properly compensate several workers for all their hours spent on the job. As part of the consent decree, El Charro Casita, Inc. and its owner will compensate 25 current and former employees a total of $295,909 in back wages and damages and an additional $15,115 in penalties for willful violations of federal labor and wage laws.
An investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined El Charro Casita willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping provisions at its restaurants in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Guerneville. Instead of paying workers one and a half times their average hourly rate of pay for overtime hours, the restaurants compensated workers with cash payments at straight time wages.
To conceal the illegal wage practice, the restaurants maintained a set of fake time cards and paychecks and thus violated portions of the FLSA requiring wage statements given to workers accurately reflect all their hours worked and wages earned. Investigators also found one employee working at the restaurant was under the age of 14, a violation of federal child labor laws.
“The resolution of this investigation ensures that these employees will receive the wages they have earned,” said Wage and Hour Division Director Susana Blanco, in San Francisco. “This agreement helps us to level the playing field so that employers who fail to comply with the law do not gain a competitive advantage over those who do. We encourage all employers to use the multiple resources we offer to avoid violations.”
In addition to paying back workers their due wages and damages, the company will also update its record-keeping systems to ensure future wage theft does not occur. El Charro restaurants must also designate a third-party monitor to conduct a review of the company’s compliance with the FLSA every six months for at least two years.
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