The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Department of Labor (DOL) exist to protect employers from taking advantage of their workers. Because employers are in a position of power over their workers, the temptation to use that leverage for their own benefit can sometimes be too much to resist.
The FLSA requires employers to pay their workers at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour. The Act also defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week and requires employers to pay their workers one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.
In addition to the federal labor law, each state and city has their own laws governing employers in their districts so anyone conducting business in the United States needs to be aware of all the relevant labor laws. That can be confusing enough for employers to deal with, so it’s no surprise that many employees aren’t aware of all their rights under the law. Even when workers are aware that their rights are being violated, they’re often too afraid of facing retaliation from their employer to speak up. That’s where the Department of Labor comes in.
The DOL recently filed a wage and hour lawsuit against Luis Salas for allegedly failing to pay the workers in his Mexican restaurants minimum wages and overtime. Salas is the owner and manager of Acapulco Mexican Restaurant Inc. and Tampico LLC, both of which are located in West Virginia, as well as Tampico Mexican Restaurant Inc., which is located in Ohio.
According to the wage and hour lawsuit, Salas allegedly paid his employees a fixed rate. The FLSA allows employers to pay their workers in a variety of ways, including a fixed salary, per piece and per day, but the amount paid to the employees divided by the number of hours worked must show that the workers are getting paid at least minimum wage. The lawsuit filed by the DOL alleges the fixed rate Salas was paying his workers meant they were earning less than minimum wage and were not getting paid the proper overtime compensation when they worked more than forty hours a week.
The lawsuit further alleges Salas illegally required his employees to contribute to a tip pool and failed to maintain proper records of all the hours worked by and wages paid to employees. Salas also allegedly paid some employees in cash and off the books, which is also in violation of the FLSA.
The DOL alleges Salas took advantage of his employees’ lack of awareness and, in some cases, language barrier to avoid paying them all the wages they earned. The department’s investigation allegedly found these violations have been going on since 2009.
Salas has agreed to pay $190,000 in back wages to 67 employees to settle the lawsuit. The settlement agreement also requires Salas and his restaurants to provide training and education on the FLSA to restaurant managers and workers. The restaurants will also be required to install a digital time-keeping system and maintain accurate, detailed pay stubs.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Palatine and Gurnee. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Elkgrove Village and Hoffman Estates overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.