GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $62,412 in back wages and damages for 20 workers after a federal court in Michigan supported the department’s findings that a Grand Rapids restaurant denied overtime wages to the workers and failed to pay minimum wage to one server.
Under terms of a consent order and judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on April 4, Tacos el Cuñado Alpine LLC and owner Jessica Lopez will make immediate restitution to the employees denied their full wages.
Judge Robert J. Jonker’s order resolves the department’s March 15, 2023, lawsuit prompted by an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that identified the violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and ordered Lopez to pay $31,206 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the restaurant’s affected current and former employees.
Specifically, division investigators learned the employer failed to keep accurate pay records and to pay tipped and non-tipped workers time-and-one-half their average rate of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek. The FLSA requires the payment of minimum wage and overtime.
“The failure to pay overtime wages is far too common in the restaurant industry, particularly among vulnerable employees who may not understand their rights to overtime,” said Wage and Hour District Director Mary O’Rourke in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The Wage and Hour Division provides confidential advice, if needed, to workers and employers unsure of federal wage standards and compliance with the law.”
The investigation reviewed the employer’s payroll records from Aug. 13, 2020 to Aug. 12, 2022. The department filed its complaint after Tacos el Cuñado Alpine LLC and Lopez failed to resolve the wage violations administratively. The department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Chicago litigated the case.
The FLSA requires the payment of minimum wage and overtime at time and one-half a worker’s average hourly rate of pay, including bonuses. Learn about specific FLSA rules for the restaurant industry.
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 and how to file an online complaint. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.
Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – also available in Spanish – to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
Su v. Tacos el Cuñado Alpine LLC, Jessica Lopez
U.S. District Court for Western Division of Michigan