LONDONDERRY, NH — Two Mexican restaurants in New Hampshire have agreed to pay nearly $1 million in back wages and damages to 63 employees.
Mexican restaurant La Carreta (La Carreta-Derry Inc. and La Carreta-Londonderry LLC) and Heriberto Leon have agreed to pay 63 employees $890,169. According to the US Department of Labor, the settlement includes $445,085 in back wages and an equal amount in damages. The fine was accepted after a department-led investigation and later litigation for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
According to the findings, the two restaurants only paid tips to four servers, resulting in underpayments of minimum wage. Restaurants also failed to pay overtime to employees who only received tips. Some employees were only paid the straight-time rate for hours over 40 hours worked. And restaurants have failed to keep accurate time records for some employees.
“Paying restaurant workers full overtime and requiring servers to work only for tips without cash pay is simply pay theft,” said Steven McKinney, district manager of the food service division. wages and hours in Manchester. “While we often see such violations in the restaurant industry, these violations can easily be avoided if employers know and understand the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. We encourage them to contact us with any questions. they might have about their responsibilities under the law.”
Regional Labor Attorney Maia Fisher in Boston said the judgment shows officials will use every tool at their disposal to prevent wage theft and recover stolen wages and damages.
“We encourage employers to comply with the FLSA to avoid costly litigation,” she said. “We also encourage employees to take note of how the department will pursue aggressive lawsuits to recover wages taken from them and hope that employees will feel confident in filing complaints of wage theft with the department.”
The agreement also requires that employers not violate future interactions with employees and cooperate with any future investigation.
La Carreta Mexican restaurants also have locations in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth.
The company did not return an email seeking comment.