A Hotline Helping Spanish-Speaking Workers Jump-Started an Investigation Into a Restaurant for Not Paying Wages – Now the Restaurant Owes $118K
Rosy’s Mexican Restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, is making headlines as of late, and it has nothing to do with its food.
As reported by WFLA, the restaurant underwent an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, which found that it was involved in practices that went against labor laws. Now that it was caught refusing to pay employees a living wage, the restaurant must pay back nearly $120,000.
Rosy’s Mexican Restaurant did not pay its servers’ wages at all, with the investigation finding that it forced “them to rely on customer tips as their sole compensation.” In Florida, a server’s minimum cash wage is $6.98 an hour, not including tips.
The restaurant also refused to pay its employees compensation for overtime work, including “dishwashers, cooks and certain servers for hours worked over 40 in a work week.” For servers, overtime pay is $15 minus the maximum tip credit of $3.02 an hour, meaning the restaurant denied waiters $11.98 an hour for staying overtime.
While it’s not yet clear how long the restaurant went without paying servers regular wages or any of their employees for overtime, the amount accumulated into a hefty sum. The restaurant must now pay 10 of its employees $118,042 in back pay, which may also include damages.
Not paying its employees wasn’t the only thing Rosy’s Mexican Restaurant did wrong: they also didn’t keep proper track of payroll. As per the investigation into E & E Quezada Food Services Corp., the corporation that operates the restaurant, they “failed to maintain accurate payroll records” on a daily basis and violated labor laws.
As Wage and Hour Division District Office Director Wildalí De Jesús said, “By denying servers a cash wage and forcing them to live on tips alone and denying other workers their overtime pay, Rosy’s Mexican Restaurant made it harder for these employees, who depend on every dollar, to take care of themselves and their families.”
Even worse, the restaurant kept its employees under 16 years of age working after 7 P.M., which is illegal from Labor Day to May 31.
So how did the Department of Labor find out? The Employment Education and Outreach Alliance is a hotline that helps out Spanish-speaking workers having any kind of problems in their workplace, and they reportedly first caught wind of the restaurant’s seedy practices.
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