wisconsin restaurant owner owes more than $272k to employees, violated child labor laws
Four restaurants in Wisconsin, alleged of violating child labor laws, owe more than 100 employees over $272,000 in wages. The owner of Casa Tequila has violated several federal regulations, including provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Kristin Tout, wage and hour division director for U.S Department of Labor, said violations like those found in their investigation of Casa Tequila are very much common in the food service industry. She highlighted that restaurants often employ people unfamiliar with their legal rights and protections as workers and who may be fearful about raising or reporting their concerns.
The Department informed Casa Tequila that it owes the workers back wages, which will have to be fully repaid. This comes after an investigation revealed that the restaurant group operated a tip pool that shared proceeds with cooks and kitchen staff whose jobs are not designated as “tipped occupations”. As such, the restaurant couldn’t legally claim for tips for servers, who are paid lower minimum wages with the understanding they can earn money from tips.
An official statement said it also affected how non-tipped and tipped workers should be compensated for overtime wages – employees were effectively shorted of money they were entitled to under federal labor laws. Workers were paid straight time rates, even when overtime was granted, and not time-and-a-half for the hours in excess of 40 hours in the company’s standard workweek.
Tout said restaurant owners are legally required to understand and comply with federal laws governing how tipped and hourly workers’ wages must be paid, and how young workers can be employed safely with a schedule that does not interfere with their education or well-being. She added that employers who fail to comply will be held accountable and the Wage and Hour Division will do everything in its power to recover wages owed to employees.
Furthermore, employees who suspect their employers of not complying with labor laws can contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. It will monitor the company to ensure that the employees receive their rightfully earned wages.