WAUSEON, OH – The operator of Wauseon restaurant forced servers – who worked an average of 60 hours a week – to cash paychecks and then pay their wages back to him in cash, allowing the workers to keep just the tips they earned plus $20 in each two-week pay period, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found.

Meanwhile, Los Mariachis LLC and owner Ruben Lopez paid the restaurants’ cooks a straight salary for all 60 of the hours they worked weekly, denying them overtime wages due for hours over 40 per week.

In addition to the employer’s egregious violations of multiple provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department’s Wage and Hour Division also determined they failed to keep accurate time and payroll records.

The division’s investigation recovered $245,509 in back wages for six servers and 12 cooks at Los Mariachis along with Lopez’s commitment to comply immediately with federal wage laws.

“The $245,590 in back wages our investigation recovered will make a significant difference in the lives of 18 Los Mariachis’ workers and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Matthew Utley in Columbus, Ohio. “No server should be forced to work for just tips and $10 per week, and no cook should be paid straight time for 20 hours of overtime. Payment of at least the minimum wage and overtime has been the law of the land for 85 years, and every person working in the U.S. has the right to be paid their full-earned wages.”

“We continue to work with local worker’s advocacy groups, consulates, employer groups and other community stakeholders to educate workers and employers about their rights. The failure to pay accurate wages is a problem across many industries,” Utley added. “Employers or workers with questions should reach out to Wage and Hour for information.”

The FLSA requires the payment of at least the federal minimum wage $7.25 per hour and overtime at time and one-half a worker’s average hourly rate of pay, plus incentive pay such as bonuses, shift differential, and longevity pay. Learn about specific FLSA rules for the restaurant industry. 

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the division’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. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for android devices – free and also available in Spanish – to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

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