A Mexican restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, owes about $118,000 to several employees who were forced to work for tips alone or denied overtime wages, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that the restaurant's operator, E & E Quezada Food Services Corp., "failed to pay its servers any wages, forcing them to rely on customer tips as their sole compensation," the agency said in a news release Wednesday.
The restaurant also did not pay dishwashers, cooks and some servers an appropriate overtime wage for working more than 40 hours in a week, according to the investigation. Overtime pay is supposed to be granted at a rate not less than 1.5 times a standard wage, according to federal law.
Owners of E & E Quezada Food Services Corp. did not respond to NBC News’ phone call seeking comment Friday.
A server in Florida earns a minimum of $6.98 per hour before tips. Overtime wages would bring that up to $10.47, NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa reported.
“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,” Wage and Hour Division District Office Director Wildalí De Jesús, in Orlando, said in a statement.
Investigators also discovered that the employer did not keep accurate payroll and shift records. Additionally, it let a 15-year-old employee work past 7 p.m. on school nights, effectively violating federal work hour standards for workers under 16, according to the division.
Investigators said they initiated the probe after learning about the employer’s practices through the Employment Education and Outreach alliance, which manages a multistate hotline to assist Spanish-speaking workers with workplace issues.
Following the investigation, the agency concluded that E & E Quezada Food Services Corp. owes a combined $118,042 in back wages and liquidated damages to 10 employees at Rosy’s Mexican Restaurant.
“Violations like those found in this case can be easily avoided,” De Jesús said.
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