LAVONIA, GA – A Lavonia restaurant’s decision to require its tipped servers to work for tips only by requiring them to cash their paychecks and return their cash wages led to the recovery of $123,869 in back wages for three workers following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined La Cabaña Mexican Restaurant Inc. violated minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The division found La Cabaña’s practice of requiring workers to return their pay and keep only their tips resulted in the employer owing workers back wages at the full federal minimum wage for every hour they had worked under these circumstances. The employer also failed to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours in a week, yet falsified their records to show such payment. That practice resulted in the department citing overtime and recordkeeping violations against La Cabaña. 

“During the pandemic, essential restaurant workers have put themselves at risk to keep their employers’ businesses open and to provide for themselves and their families, all while earning some of the lowest wages of workers in any industry,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “Our investigation found this employer stole wages from its workers, harming them and their families and gaining an unfair advantage over employers who play by the rules. The U.S. Department of Labor will enforce the law to recover hard-earned wages for workers, and to ensure a level playing field for business owners who comply with the law.”

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

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