PROVIDENCE – Los Andes LLC, doing business as Los Andes Restaurant, must pay $775,000 to the U.S. Department of Labor for violations of overtime pay laws, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday.
The order was made in U.S. District Court.
The restaurant company did not challenge the charges, and did not admit to or deny the allegations.
The federal complaint against the company alleged that the proprietors of Los Andes knowingly failed to pay employees their overtime premium wages. The back wages that will be paid are $364,947.90, matched by an equal amount in damages. The company is also paying $45,104.20 in civil penalties.
Company spokesman Bill Fisher issued a statement characterizing the wages not paid as a miscalculation. The statement also said that the owners of the business were unaware they were not paying overtime, and that once they understood the correct rate, they began paying the correct rate.
“The owners of Los Andes hold their employees in the highest regard and know they are the reason the restaurant is a favorite dining establishment of so many Rhode Islanders,” said Fischer in a statement. “During a periodic review by the U.S. Department of Labor, the owners became aware that they were not calculating employee overtime correctly.
“The restaurant owners cooperated with this process and have been fully compliant with all wage laws and regulations since the miscalculation was discovered,” he added.
According to the complaint, the restaurant only logged 40 hours of work for employees and filed records stating so, and subsequently paid them their same hourly rates for overtime hours in cash. The practice was alleged to have impacted 128 workers, included cooks, food-preparation workers and wait staff.
The DOL alleged that the practice started at the latest in 2013 and that the behavior ended Oct. 9, 2016.
The court has ordered Los Andes to maintain accurate records of employees and wages, hours and other conditions and practices of employment, as required by regulations. It also ordered to company to pay lawful overtime wages and banned the company from taking discriminatory actions against employees due to any filed complaint or testimony.
Payments due to workers ranged from $50 to nearly $58,000.
Business owners Omar Curi and Cesin Curi were named defendants in the complaint.
(ADDS paragraphs 5-7 with company response.)
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