Clayton restaurant must pay after labor law violation
Posted September 17, 2015
Clayton, N.C. — Federal Labor Department investigators claim that a Clayton restaurant failed to pay its workers overtime and minimum wage and said that it’s a problem that happens too often in the restaurant industry.
Fiesta Mexicana in Johnston County is now being forced to pay more than $100,000 in back-wages to workers.
Managers at the popular lunchtime spot off of U.S. Highway 70 wouldn’t speak about the investigation, but the restaurant had to pay back-wages to 23 employees who either weren’t getting paid the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or who weren’t getting overtime pay. One worker, the agency said, was fired after refusing to return back-wages to restaurant owners after the initial investigation.
“Unfortunately, we see a lot of violations in restaurants,” said district director of the United States Labor Department, Rick Blaylock.
Blaylock said that the violations likely happen because positions in restaurants are among lower-paying jobs.
“There’s probably a lot of competition for those jobs and they feel as though if they don’t follow the employer’s rules, even if they are in violation, then they feel they may not have an opportunity to work,” said Blaylock.
Wait staff in most restaurants get a base pay that is less than minimum wage in order to accommodate tips, but Blaylock said that even when tips are scarce, management must ensure that tips and wages equal at least $7.25 per hour.
Investigations into labor violations are not always spurred by complaints. Blaylock said the agency targets businesses it knows are more prone to violations.
“When an employer doesn’t pay minimum wage or overtime, it doesn’t just affect the worker,” Blaylock said. “It affects their family, especially at the low-wage end.”