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July 29, 2005
DOL Demanding Back Wages from MO Restaurant

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed court petitions to recover $100,000 in back wages on behalf of 13 employees of a restaurant in Raymore, Missouri.

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The DOL says it filed legal actions against El Pato Inc., operating as El Maguey Mexican Restaurant, for failure to comply with a previous injunction and for ongoing alleged violations of the minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

An investigation conducted by the DOL's Wage and Hour Division revealed that the employer had failed to maintain an accurate record of hours worked, pay the minimum wage, and pay time and one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week, according to a department press release.

The 13 employees worked as servers, busboys, cooks and dishwashers. The servers received tips only without wages. The busboys and kitchen staff were paid a fixed amount weekly that did not equal the minimum hourly wage required under the law. Additionally, the investigation determined the employees were not exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.

This was the firm's third investigation. In 2003, the department filed a consent judgment against both El Pato and its owner Manuel Jaime. The previous investigation found similar violations with back wages of more than $78,000 due 20 employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employees to be paid the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one-half the regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week unless the employee is exempt from overtime pay. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.

The Wage and Hour Division recovered nearly $200 million in back wages in fiscal year 2004 for more than 288,000 workers. Average days to resolve a complaint during that time decreased from 108 to 92 days.

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