Bay Area Restaurant To Pay $690k For Withholding Tips, Violating Overtime Laws

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Denis ZilberbergFebruary 9, 2019Wage & Hour Law

The popular eatery Gordo Taqueria has agreed to pay out $690,000 to its workers as a result of a class action claim against it alleging wage violations. This agreement is just one of many recent settlements involving Bay Area restaurants, such as the mid-January settlement between Rangoon Ruby’s, with that eating establishment agreeing to pay more than $4 million in wages and penalties to more than 300 workers. Similarly, last year La Taqueria paid a half-million dollars to its workers. Kome Buffet, Mission Beach Café, Mango Garden, and Burma Superstar have all been involved in similar lawsuits in the recent past.

The Gordo Taqueria suit stems from a complaint by former dishwasher Jose Martinez, who worked at the restaurant’s College Avenue Berkeley location for two years, ending in 2015. With the help of San Francisco’s Legal Aid at Work, Martinez filed a class-action lawsuit in December of 2016 on behalf of 240 workers. Martinez and the class accuse the restaurant of giving workers their tips as a lump sum, one time each year instead of paying the tips out at the end of the worker’s shift or on the worker’s check at the end of the pay period, which is required under California law. Workers also say they were not receiving overtime pay due. The agreement, in this case, resolves the class action suit instead of a citation from the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.

The allegations in Martinez’s case closely mirror those raised by other workers in the other recent cases mentioned above. Unpaid overtime, improperly distributing tips, inadequate rest periods, minimum wage violations and retaliation against workers who voice concerns about their rights at work are all common themes.

An attorney with Legal Aid at Work, Carole Vigne, says the restaurant industry has historically been “rife with violations.” U.S. Department of Labor estimates holds that wage theft violations among California employers amount to around $22.5 million in lost income for workers each and every week.

Young Workers United, a nonprofit funded in part by the San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards, says that restaurant work is among the six industries where immigrant workers are a dominant force and often make less than the minimum wage and no overtime. The organization seeks to educate workers in these industries, including agriculture, car wash, janitorial, residential, and restaurant workers, about the minimum wage and employer programs such as paid parental leave and sick leave. The office also works with the Chinese Progressive Association and the Asian Law Caucus as well as around a dozen others and targets some immigrant communities where workers are not fluent in English.

If you are a worker who has experienced a wage and hour issue, reach out to our Los Angeles wage and hour dispute attorney at The Kaufman Law Firm right away. He can stand up for your rights and help you get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us now to schedule your no-cost case review.



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