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Federal Court Orders Delaware Restaurant to Pay $264,560 to 20 Employees After U.S. Department of Labor Uncovers Willful Wage Violations

WILMINGTON, DE – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware has ordered El Tapatio, Inc. – operator of El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware – to pay $128,051 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 20 employees for violating the minimum and overtime wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators found that from February 15, 2016, to February 10, 2019, the employer paid servers a cash wage that was less than the federal minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour required by the FLSA for tipped employees. The sub-$2.13 per hour cash wage was a result of the employer’s deduction of $1 per hour from employee wages in order to pay an employee who cleaned the restaurant. El Tapatio also failed to pay workers overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.

WHD also found El Tapatio failed to maintain accurate payroll records by not recording all the hours employees worked each week, and failed to post a required FLSA poster. In addition to the back wages and damages, the court ordered the employer to pay a civil penalty of $8,458 assessed by WHD for the willful nature of the violations.

“Employers are responsible for paying their employees all the wages they have legally earned for all the hours they have worked,” said Wage and Hour District Director James Cain, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to ensuring employees are paid what they have legally earned, as well as our continued efforts to level the playing field for employers who comply with the law,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia.

In addition to paying the back wages, damages and penalty, El Tapatio is enjoined from violating provisions of the FLSA in the future.

If you are a former or current employee of El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant and believe you may be due back wages as a result of this investigation, please contact the WHD Philadelphia District Office at 215-597-4950.

The FLSA requires that covered, non-exempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records. For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program.

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