GOOSE CREEK, SC – A Goose Creek restaurant shortchanged 21 workers and allowed minor-aged employees to work more hours than the law permits, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has revealed.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Los Arcos Inc. – operating as Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant – failed to pay the workers their legally earned wages and violated minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act when the employer did not pay some employees for all hours worked and failed to include performance bonuses in pay rates to calculate overtime.

The division recovered $108,924 in back wages and liquidated damages for the affected workers.

Investigators also determined that Los Arcos allowed two 15-year-olds to work more than 18 hours during several school weeks. By doing so, the employer violated federal youth employment requirements that limit the times of day and the number of hours youth can work during the school year.

In December 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 958,000 accommodation and food services workers left their positions. The need for restaurant food servers is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2020-2030 to about 2.4 million jobs, the bureau reports.

“As food service industry employers struggle to find people to fill the jobs needed to remain competitive, they must take into account that retaining and recruiting workers is more difficult when employers fail to respect workers’ rights and pay them their full wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina.

In fiscal year 2021, more than 4,200 Wage and Hour Division investigations recovered more than $34.7 million for more than 29,000 workers in the food service industry.                         

For information about laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions, regardless of immigration status, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

The Wage and Hour Division has a number of resources online for workers and employers, including a restaurant compliance toolkit. 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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