After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware has ordered El Tapatio, Inc. – operator of El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant on Philadelphia Pike near Wilmington – 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.
The judgment does not include separately owned restaurants in Bear and Middletown that operate under the El Tapatio name.
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 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.
Former or current employees of El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant who believe they may be due back wages can contact the WHD Philadelphia District Office at 215-597-4950.
Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program.