Santa Ana restaurant El Calamar will pay its workers $96,000 in
unpaid overtime and damages, the U.S. Department of Labor
The Department of Labor found the Mexican restaurant failed to
pay overtime to 11 cooks who were sometimes paid straight time
or only partial overtime payments.
El Calamar will now pay roughly $48,000 in overtime back wages
and another $48,000 in damages to the 11 employees.
The owners also will implement an electronic time-keeping system
and stop using cash payments, the Labor Department said.
Representatives for El Calamar did not immediately return
requests for comment.
“Failing to pay overtime, making cash payments, and keeping
inaccurate payroll records are all-too-common labor violations
in the restaurant industry,” said Rodolfo Cortez, district
director of the Wage and Hour Division in San Diego, in a
statement. “The resolution of this case should send a clear
message to other employers who may be paying their workers in
this manner – we will continue to use every enforcement tool
available to improve compliance in this industry, and to ensure
that workers take home every penny they have earned.”
Wage theft is a widespread problem among low-paid industries
including restaurants, recyclers, manufacturing and home health
In November, U.S. Labor Department cited Ross, T.J. Maxx and
Forever 21 for wage theft.
“I’m sad to say that in 2016, we have sweatshops in America. In
the past three decades, the abuses have gotten worse,” Ruben
Rosalez, a U.S. Labor Department regional administrator, said at
a the time.
In March, the Register reported the U.S. Labor Department was
investigating the home health care industry, where workers are
often cheated out of overtime and other pay.
Officials audited around 50 home-care companies in the region in
the past year, most of which were found to have violations.
In California last year, operators were charged more than $4.5
million in back wages for 1,500 workers.
At the beginning of the year, SB588 and AB970 took effect,
expanding the power of the California labor commissioner to
collect back wages and penalties from companies failing to pay
minimum wage and overtime.
Successor companies also will be held liable if the company
Staff writer Margot Roosevelt contributed to this report.
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