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Ohio Overtime Lawsuit Filed against Restaurant Chain

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Columbus, OHA former waitress has filed an Ohio employment lawsuit, alleging violations of federal and Ohio labor laws, including failure to pay minimum wage and failure to pay overtime. The Ohio overtime lawsuit has been granted class-action status.

The Columbus Dispatch (10/15/14) reports that Rhonda Sanchez filed the lawsuit against El Vaquero restaurants, alleging failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime and forcing employees to share tips with restaurant owners. In September, US District Judge Algenon L. Marbley granted class-action status to the lawsuit, creating the potential for approximately 450 more claimants to join.

In making his ruling, the judge noted that the “Plaintiff has met the ‘fairly lenient standard’ necessary to demonstrate that FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act] conditional collective action certification is appropriate."

“In support of her claims, Plaintiff has offered significant evidence of the alleged violations,” the judge ruled. The evidence included documentation of “Weekly Time Sheets” that were compared with official “Payroll Register” printouts, which alleged that employees were only paid overtime on a two-week/80-hour basis.

It is legal in Ohio for servers to be paid a “tipped” minimum wage, which is half of the regular minimum wage. For restaurants to do this, however, the servers must be able to make up the difference between “tipped” minimum wage and regular minimum wage with their tips. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the minimum wage was $7.70 an hour. Tipped employees could be paid $3.85 an hour, provided they made enough in tips to make up the difference.

Sanchez alleges that she did not make the minimum wage and was not allowed to keep all her tips. According to the lawsuit, servers had to give the restaurant three percent of their sale amount - allegedly called “El Vaquero’s money” - and if their tips did not make up that three percent, then had to pay out of their own pocket. Furthermore, owners and managers were allowed to share in the three percent.

According to court documents, the servers’ tipped minimum wage was based only on the servers’ scheduled hours, not the hours a server actually worked. The plaintiffs allege that servers regularly worked hours in excess of those they were scheduled for and that when they worked overtime they were often paid either straight time or nothing for their overtime hours.

The lawsuit (case number 2:12-cv-650) was filed in July 2012 by Sanchez and Renae Castillo, who reportedly settled with the restaurant chain for around $42,000.

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READER COMMENTS

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I never knew there was a lawsuit going with El Vaquero... I am aslo a victim of wages.. they didnt pay my min wage and didnt pay me overtime and i worked for them for 6 years 60 hrs week..

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