Investigation results in court order against restaurants

CHARLESTON — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has ordered six restaurants in West Virginia and Ohio and their owners to pay $111,024 in back wages and damages to 27 employees after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations. The court also imposed a $20,150 civil money penalty.

The court’s order covered four Las Trancas restaurants and a Plaza Maya restaurant in West Virginia and one Las Trancas restaurant in Ohio. The defendants were Las Trancas Inc., Las Trancas of Charleston Inc., Las Trancas Buckhannon Inc., Las Trancas of Ripley Inc., Plaza Maya Inc., and Lorena Arellano and Martin Arellano, individually and as corporate officers of the enterprise of Las Trancas Inc.

The consent judgment came in response to a WHD investigation that found the restaurants willfully violated the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements during the period May 2014 to October 2017. The restaurants paid some workers only for their scheduled hours, without regard to the number of hours they actually worked, leading to minimum wage and overtime violations.

The restaurants also failed to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, but worked fewer than 80 hours in the two-week pay period. WHD also found servers were paid a salary on days when they filled in for a manager but did not take into consideration the extra hours worked nor the additional money earned on these shifts when calculating the amounts these employees were due for overtime. Failure to track employees’ hours accurately resulted in recordkeeping violations.

“This resolution puts these wages into the hands of the people who rightfully earned them,” said John DuMont, Wage and Hour District Director in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “We encourage all employers to use the many tools the Department of Labor provides to help them understand their obligations and to comply with the law.”

“The agreement amplifies our clear message that the Wage and Hour Division will fully and fairly enforce the law,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III. “The outcome in this case helps to level the competitive playing field for employers that comply with the law.”

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

Further information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

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