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December 11, 2003
Deductions for Uniforms to Cost Mexican Restaurant

A Galveston, Texas, restaurant has agreed to pay $81,634 to settle allegations that it violated minimum-wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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Investigators from the Department of Labor said that Salsa's Mexican Restaurant failed to properly pay its employees the minimum wage because of deductions made for uniforms. Additionally, the investigation found the company failed to pay proper overtime for the period of August 1, 2002, through August 1, 2003. The settlement covers 88 current and former wait staff.

Under the FLSA, all employees covered by the act must be paid the full minimum wage rate, currently $5.15 per hour. Deductions, such as for uniforms in this case, or cash-register shortages or breakage of dishes, are not allowable if they drop workers pay below the minimum wage. Furthermore, the FLSA requires employees be paid at time and one half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek.

The department said the company cooperated during the investigation and has agreed to future compliance with the law. Back wages to the workers are to be paid in full by January 2, 2004.

This investigation was based upon a referral received by a member of the public, following media attention given to the "Justice and Equality in the Workplace" initiative. The initiative is a cooperative effort by government agencies, including the Labor Department, grass-roots organizations, and the Consulates of Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, and El Salvador to ensure that workplace rights are enforced for all persons.

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