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Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer > Blog > Wage and Hour > DOL Recovers Nearly $50,000 In Back Wages On Behalf Of Florida Restaurant Workers

DOL Recovers Nearly $50,000 In Back Wages On Behalf Of Florida Restaurant Workers

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On February 4th, 2022, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) confirmed that $47,088 has been recovered in back wages for approximately 30 restaurant workers. The DOL determined that Mezcal Mexican Grill—a restaurant based in Miramar Beach, Florida—failed to pay bartenders and servers their proper overtime wages. Notably, a staffing company was also deemed jointly responsible for the wage and hour violation. In this article, you will find a more detailed overview of the allegations and an explanation of the overtime rights of tipped employees.

Allegations: Florida Restaurant Paid Bartenders and Servers Straight-Time Wages

The Mezcal Mexican Grill is a restaurant located in Walton County, Florida. According to the DOL, the restaurant worked with ‘Good Stand’, a Florida-based staffing company to find many of its workers. After an investigation into the wage and hour practices of the restaurant, the DOL determined that they paid bartenders and servers straight-time wages—regardless of how many hours they worked in a given week.

In total, the DOL found that the restaurant unlawfully denied at least 30 different workers more than $47,000 in overtime wages. Additionally, the DOL determined that Mezcal Mexican Grill failed to keep proper records as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). One of the things that makes this enforcement action unique is that the DOL also determined that the restaurant and the staffing agency were joint employers—meaning they were both responsible for ensuring workers were paid properly for overtime.

Tipped Restaurant Workers are Still Entitled to Overtime Pay

There are many myths and misconceptions out there about tips for restaurant workers and their right to receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Tipped restaurant workers generally do not qualify as “exempt” employees under the FLSA. In other words, tipped restaurant workers are entitled to overtime wages when they put in overtime hours. That a restaurant employee receives tips as their primary source of pay does not matter.

Overtime pay is time-and-a-half. A tipped restaurant worker must be paid the proper overtime amount. Too many employers in Florida miscalculate the overtime rate of pay for tipped workers. When determining the overtime wages for tipped workers, an employer must use the full state-mandated minimum wage rate as the baseline—not the reduced hourly rate for tipped workers.

Example: As of February of 2022, Florida has a $10.00 per hour state-mandated minimum wage. The minimum hourly wage rate for tipped workers is $6.98. However, when calculating overtime pay, Florida employers must use the full minimum wage rate ($10.00) as the baseline. Overtime pay for a tipped worker on minimum wage is $15.00 per hour.

Get Help From a Wage and Hour Rights Attorney in Florida

Unfortunately, wage and hour violations remain a problem in the workplace—particularly in the restaurant industry. If you or your loved one was denied the overtime pay that you earned putting in long hours, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Florida wage and hour lawyer for help.

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