Ohio Restaurant Agrees to Terms to Settle Wage Theft Allegations

Ohio Restaurant Agrees to Terms with Labor Department to Settle Wage Theft Allegations

AKRON, OH — An Akron, Ohio restaurant recently agreed to settlement terms with the Department of Labor to resolve claims that the company engaged in systematic wage theft against almost two-dozen workers over the course of several years. Under the resolution, defendant Azteca Restaurante Mexicano Inc. and its named owner will pay a total of $118,000 in back wages with interest and liquidated damages to 21 current and former employees as well as implement a computerized payroll system to prevent future instances of wage theft from occurring.

According to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, an investigation determined that the defendant paid its kitchen staff fixed weekly salaries of $550 to $675 no matter how many overtime hours the workers put in per pay period. Furthermore, investigators claimed that the defendant automatically deducted 3% from server tips, which resulted in some employees earning less than minimum wage as required by federal and state laws.

Other illegal payroll practices included only calculating server overtime rates based on their cash tips instead of their total earnings and failure to provide all workers with accurate wage statements detailing total hours worked and pay earned.

“Failing to pay workers a legal wage is not only wrong, but it allows companies to gain an unfair advantage over competitors who abide by the law,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director George Victory, in Columbus. “Wage violations can be avoided, and we encourage companies to reach out to us for guidance.”

In addition to paying back workers and implementing compliance measures to close the case, the defendant will also pay a civil fine of $9,646 for its “willful and repeated violations” of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, employers have a legal duty to pay their workers at least minimum wage for the first 40 hours in a week and increase pay to one and a half times the individual’s average hourly rate of pay for overtime wages.

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