Two New Hampshire restaurants ordered to pay $900,000 in late wages and damages after investigation finds some staff received only tips and no pay

A judge has ordered two New Hampshire restaurants to pay nearly $900,000 in back wages and damages to staff after a Labor Department investigation found workplace violations, including the fact not to pay salaries to some waiters and only let them take tips home.

The US Department of Labor said on Monday that La Carreta restaurants in Derry and Londonderry and a general manager agreed to pay $445,085 in back wages, plus the same amount in damages, to 63 employees after the investigation revealed that they had violated fair work requirements, including the payment of overtime premiums to some staff.

In a lawsuit filed in December 2020, the DOL said the Derry restaurant paid “no wages at all to three dining room employees, forcing them to rely exclusively on tips for their wages.” Two of the employees received no pay for “most or all” of the time between November 2016 and November 2019, the department said. The restaurant admitted the allegations in a response filed in February 2021.

The Londonderry restaurant also forced an employee to rely solely on tips, the DOL said. The employee did not receive pay for “most or all” of the period from July 2016 to July 2017, the department said, although the restaurant only admitted it happened between November 2016 and July 2017, claiming the longest period was over. of the scope of the trial.

According to the Labor Department, by not paying wages, the restaurant violated the minimum wage law, which states that workers must be paid at least $7.25 an hour. For tipped employees in New Hampshire, the company must pay at least $3.26 per hour, with tips raising the minimum to $7.25 per hour.

The DOL said the restaurants also failed to pay overtime premiums. In addition to the four servers who received no pay, about 60 other restaurant workers did not receive the applicable one-and-a-half-times rate of pay for time worked beyond a weekly total of 40 hours. , said the DOL. Restaurant staff had to work an average of 63 hours a week, the department added.

Some staff members received their normal overtime pay rate, while others received a lump sum that did not match the rate set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the DOL said.

The restaurants admitted they had failed to properly compensate “about” 58 employees and some were receiving regular overtime pay.

The restaurants also failed to keep “adequate and accurate records” of employer names, hours worked and wages paid, according to the DOL.

In addition to the two restaurants — La Carreta owns six in total in southern New Hampshire — the lawsuit named Heriberto Leon, general manager of the Londonderry restaurant, as a defendant.

In response to the lawsuit, the restaurants denied claims that their FLSA violations were conscious, deliberate or intentional. The restaurants did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

In an April 5 consent judgment, Paul Barbadoro, a U.S. District Judge in New Hampshire, ordered the restaurants to pay back wages and damages to affected workers. One of the employees is expected to receive more than $143,000, while two will be paid around $135,000 each.

“Paying restaurant workers full overtime and requiring servers to work only for tips without cash pay is simply pay theft,” said Steven McKinney, district manager of the food service division. salaries and hours of the DOL in Manchester, New Hampshire, in a statement Monday.

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