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Ohio Restaurant Sued in Support of Ohio Employment Law

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Orrville, OHThe very least an employee can expect from a reputable employer is to be fairly paid for all hours worked, including overtime. Such an expectation is firmly entrenched in the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as Ohio Labor Laws. However, the existence of such legal guidance did not appear to deter an Ohio restaurant owner from denying employees what was rightfully theirs.

To that end, the US Department of Labor (DOL) in late summer initiated a lawsuit against the operators of Senor Pancho’s Restaurant, an establishment located in Orrville, Ohio. According to the Daily Record (9/6/13), the Wayne County eatery is owned and operated by Arriaga Inc., which has been named as one of three defendants in the action, along with restaurant manager Luis Arriaga and company officer Martin Arriaga.

At issue, according to the Ohio Employment lawsuit, are back wages owed to 34 employees of the facility.

Amongst other violations to federal statutes and Ohio Labor and Employment Law, an investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that tipped employees such as servers were paid primarily out of their tips, thereby dropping their effective hourly rate for all hours worked to below the minimum of $7.25 per hour in some, but not all weeks. Kitchen staff who were on salary were also found to have been given pay checks which, when compared against the number of hours worked, revealed an hourly wage below the federal minimum.

“Many employees who were improperly treated as exempt were either not paid or had their paychecks bounce,” said Rhonda Burke, of the Labor Department’s office of public affairs, in comments made to the Daily Record September 5 and published the following day. “The company was also found to have inadequate payroll records and failed to obtain age verification for all employed minors.”

There were also alleged incidents of unpaid Ohio Employment overtime, affecting employees at the facility located at 525 North Main Street in Orrville. It should be noted that violations were found at two locations of Senor Pancho’s in Orrville as well as Shelby, which falls within Richland County. The Shelby location has since been taken over by new owners.

The allegations of abuses against Ohio Employee rights fly in the face of the goodwill shown by the community following a fire at the facility several years ago, according to the Daily Record report. Closed for almost a year, Senor Pancho’s in Orrville was eventually restored and given the opportunity to reopen thanks to the goodwill of several members of the Orrville community who volunteered to clean and restore the fire-ravaged building.

Now, the operators are alleged to have cheated their employees out of more than a quarter million dollars in back wages, in an apparent circumvention of Ohio Employment labor law and federal statutes under FLSA from the period beginning January 24, 2011 to May 10, 2012.

“Failing to pay wages and allowing payroll checks to bounce shows little regard for the contributions of these workers and to their basic need of providing for themselves and their families,” said George Victory, the wage and hour district director in Columbus.

The lawsuit attempts to recover $272,346 owed under FLSA statutes and Ohio Employment Law to 34 employees.

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