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El Rodeo, El Toreo Roanoke restaurants forced to pay $3 million in back wages, damages

El Rodeo on Orange Ave. (Google Maps)

ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) -- Roanoke-area restaurants and owners are having to pay back $3 million in back wages and damages to workers.

As a result of a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia entered a consent judgment ordering six Roanoke-area restaurants and their owners to pay $1.5 million in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 149 employees.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the consent judgment rectifies federal Fair Labor Standards Act violations.

The investigation found that from January 29, 2012 to January 25, 2015, El Rodeo-Electric Inc., El Rodeo-Orange Inc., Bravo Brandon Inc., Arellano Inc., El Toreo-Thirlane Inc. El Rodeo-Wildwood Inc., and individual owners Elijio Arellano, Jesus Arellano, and Augustin Arellano, willfully violated FLSA minimum wage and overtime provisions by only compensating servers through tips and not paying the federal minimum wage and one-and-one half their regular rates of pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week.

They said the defendants also paid non-exempt kitchen staff, i.e. cooks, assistant cooks, and dishwashers, straight time for the overtime hours they worked.

Investigators also found that the defendants failed to keep and maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked as required.

“This resolution secures proper compensation for these hard-working employees, and helps ensure that the law will be followed in the future,” said Wage and Hour District Director Carmen E. Otero-Infante, in Richmond.

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