Columbia Restaurant to pay $170K to employees for lost wages

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) San Jose Restaurante Mexicano in Columbia, SC located on Sparkleberry Lane has agreed to pay 11 of its employees $170,666 in lost wages.

The settlement comes after an investigation by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions at San Jose Restaurante, according to the Department of Labor spokesperson Michael Wald.

The FLSA violations resulted from the employer's failure to correctly compensate employees for all work hours. After the Dept. of Law reviewed the restaurant's payroll records and conducted interviews, investigators found out that because the servers's salary relied mostly on their tips their earned wages fell below $2.13 per hour, said Wald.

"The Wage and Hour Division is committed to protecting low-wage employees in the restaurant industry, where we have found widespread FLSA violations resulting from practices such as having employees work for tips only, not recording all hours worked and failing to pay overtime compensation," said Director of the Division's Columbia office, Michelle Garvey, which conducted the investigation.

Other employees, such as kitchen staff, were paid flat salaries each month without keeping records of the hours worked this also did not satisfy minimum wage or overtime pay requirements, said spokesperson Wald.

"Our goal is to change the behavior of violators so that workers will receive their just wages, and law-abiding employers will be able to compete on a level playing field. Other restaurants should take notice of the division's ongoing enforcement initiative and ensure that they are paying their employees in compliance with the FLSA," said Garvey.

Since fiscal year 2010, the division's Columbia District Office has conducted more than 200 investigations of restaurants in its jurisdiction, resulting in $1.72 million in lost wages recovered for more than 1,300 employees.

In addition to paying the lost wages, the restaurant has agreed to comply and keep accurate records of all hours worked by employees. Paying all employees at least the federal minimum wage, provide overtime compensation and inform employees in advance that the tip credit will be used.

To find out more information on enforcement activities by the Department of Labor visit The public data is available through the free mobile application "Eat Shop Sleep," which enables consumers, employees and other members of the public to check if a hotel, restaurant or retail location has been investigated by the Wage and Hour Division and whether FLSA violations were found. The app is available at

For more information about FLSA and other federal labor laws, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Columbia office at 803-765-5981. Information also is available at

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