According to the Dayton Daily News (10/4/13), the lawsuit was launched by the US Department of Labor (DOL) after employees at El Rancho Grande locations in Vandalia and Cincinnati complained that they were not paid overtime. An investigation by the DOL also found that some employees were not paid minimum wage according to Ohio Labor Laws and federal statutes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
A spokesperson for the chain noted that El Rancho Grande provided all time sheets and other pertinent documents to DOL investigators and refuted the allegations, but agreed to settle in an effort to mitigate escalating legal costs.
While the negotiated Ohio Labor and Employment Law settlement did not require El Rancho Grande to admit to any wrongdoing, the enterprise has found itself in hot water before. In 2002, employees at an El Rancho Grande location complained of wage infractions. A similar investigation by the DOL at the time resulted in a lawsuit alleging violations to Ohio Employee rights.
In the end, El Rancho Grande paid out $25,218 in back wages to seven employees in 2002. Eleven years later, the chain is looking at about twice that amount. With the negotiated Ohio State Employment settlement with the DOL, El Rancho Grande will pay more than $58,000 in back wages.
However, unlike the infraction of 2002 that involved one restaurant, the most recent violation of Ohio Employment Law covers three locations and more employees - 171, to be exact. And the negotiated settlement of $58,000 is much less than the $285,000 alleged to have been denied workers in the original lawsuit filed in September 2012.
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The Ohio Employment settlement was filed in late September at US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.