Popular West Texas Restaurant Chain Receives Multiple Violations From U.S. Department Of Labor
A prominent West Texas restaurant chain has found itself in hot water.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, investigations by the agency have uncovered numerous overtime, minimum wage and child labor violations by the Plaza restaurant chain.
The Plaza is a longstanding Mexican food chain with locations in Lubbock, Amarillo, Borger, Dumas and Pampa. According to Labor Department officials, the company has paid out nearly $45,000 to over 500 former employees, in compensation for violations to the Fair Labor Violations Act's overtime and minimum wage requirements.
In addition, the Plaza has paid over $13,000 for violating federal child labor laws. For example, the Plaza was requiring employees to purchase their own uniforms, the cost of which brought their hourly wage down below the federally mandated level of $7.25 per hour. The company also allowed 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer than the 8 hour maximum on non-school days.
Here is the Labor Department's press release, in full:
U.S. Department of Labor | December 31, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Uncovers Minimum Wage,
Overtime, Child Labor Violations at West Texas Restaurant
AMARILLO, TX – After investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), The Plaza Restaurant – a restaurant chain in Texas – has paid $44,621 in back wages to 570 employees for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime requirements. Additionally, WHD assessed the employer $13,420 in civil money penalties for child labor violations of the FLSA.
WHD investigations at The Plaza Restaurant locations in Lubbock, Amarillo, Borger, Dumas, and Pampa, Texas, found the employer deducted from employees’ wages or accepted cash payments to pay for required uniforms. This practice resulted in violations when those deductions or payments reduced employees’ wages below the federal minimum wageof $7.25 per hour. The employer also systemically violated FLSA overtime provisions when it failed to pay salaried cooks overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The restaurant violated FLSA child labor provisions by permitting 14- and 15-year-old employees to work more than 8 hours on a non-school day, more than 3 hours on a day when school was in session, and later than the permitted evening hours. Additionally, the employer failed to keep records of the number of hours employees worked, as the FLSA requires. The Division also found that the employer failed to provide the general notice required by the Family and Medical Leave Act.
“Employers need to be very familiar with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor requirements when hiring minors,”said Wage and Hour Division District Director Evelyn Sanchez in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Those laws are in place to ensure that when children work, they are safe and the work does not jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities. Other employers should use this investigation as an opportunity to review their own pay practices to make sure they are in compliance. Violations like those found in this case can be avoided.”
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, electronic toolkits, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA, child labor, and other laws enforced by the Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by WHD. Employers can find additional compliance assistance information on the Wage and Hour Division website.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.