California Wage Theft Lawsuit Ends With $690k Settlement to to 240 Restaurant Workers

A California wage theft lawsuit filed on behalf of 240 workers is being settled for $690,000, having been given the preliminary approval from a superior court judge recently. Final approval of the deal is expected in April, according to BerkleySide.com. As our Los Angeles restaurant wage theft attorneys know, the restaurant industry is notorious for a host of labor law violations, ranging from failure to pay overtime, denying meal breaks, skimming hours from time sheets or failing to pay for work-related responsibilities . The U.S. Department of Labor’s wage-and-hour division reported that roughly 84 percent of full-service restaurants investigated between 2010 and 2012 had violated labor law standards, including wage and tip violations.restaurant wage theft attorney

This class action litigation was pursued by workers such as prep cooks and dishwashers at a chain taco restaurant, where current and former employees say they were cheated out of fair wages and subjected to other labor law violations.

According to the initial complaint, Martinez et al v. Gordo Taqueria et al, the lawsuit alleges that for at lest four years, defendants had a practice of distributing plaintiffs’ tips at the end of each calendar year or occasionally sometimes periodically throughout, requiring workers to pool their tips and unlawfully divide them amongst themselves in an a fashion that was arbitrary. 

What is Restaurant Wage Theft?

As Los Angeles restaurant wage theft attorneys can explain, wage theft can be explained very broadly as the non-payment or underpayment of workers for hours they have worked. Wage theft need not be proven intentional to qualify. It often includes:

  • Restaurant employers paying workers less than the minimum wage.
  • Restaurants paying employees the tipped minimum wage for doing work that is not tipped (i.e., rolling silverware or cleaning glasses).
  • Restaurants refusing to pay time-and-a-half for overtime.
  • Restaurants failing to provide employees breaks for meals.
  • Restaurants requiring workers to do duty off-the-clock.

Overtime, minimum wage and appropriate record-keeping are all mandated under the Federal Labor Standards Act, as well as by California labor laws. Also, tipped workers can be paid significantly less than the minimum wage, so long as their tips work out to at least minimum wage payment.

California Restaurant Workers Settle Wage Theft Class Action Claim

In the recent class action wage theft lawsuit, plaintiffs allege defendant restaurant failed to pay plaintiff and other workers overtime, even though they routinely worked 10-to-12-hour days. Employees were also allegedly denied appropriate rest or meal breaks during these extended shifts. Further, the way tips were distributed left some workers receiving more based on the rate of their wages and number of hours worked, rather than the way that is legally required. State law requires tips to be distributed at the end of the work day, in cash if possible. Tips are considered the sole property of the worker. Tips that are calculated and added to a credit/debit card sale must be distributed at the end of each pay period.

The restaurant was also accused of failing to pay workers full wages after they exited their employment for the restaurant and also allegedly failed to keep accurate records of how many hours employees worked, relying on manual record-keeping rather than time clocks.

The settlement, acquired through mediation, does not indicate any admission of wrongdoing by the defendant restaurant.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

Gordo Taqueria will pay $690,000 to settle employee lawsuit, Jan. 24, 2019, By Stuart Luman, Berkleyside.com

More Blog Entries:

California Fast-Food Firm Facing 10k+ Mandatory Employment Arbitration Claims Seeks Reprieve, Jan. 10, 2019, Los Angeles Restaurant Wage Theft Attorney Blog