Feds: 4 restaurants in S. Minnesota, Iowa cheated 113 workers out of $831K in pay

November 29, 2018

Federal authorities have won roughly $830,000 in back pay for more than 100 workers from three Mexican restaurants in southern Minnesota and another in Iowa, after finding that the owners violated various labor laws.

U.S. Labor Department investigators say the violations involved numerous schemes by the restaurants in Redwood Falls, Mankato and New Ulm, Minn., and Mason City, Iowa, to short their workers.

Janete Alvarez Campos, of New Ulm, has an ownership stake in all four restaurants either as sole owner or partner. She was not immediately available to comment about the federal findings.

Among the tactics employed to the detriment of the workers, according to investigators:

Some servers had to kick back their hourly wages to their employer and work solely for tips.

Bussers, food runners, cooks and dishwashers were paid flat salaries regardless of how many hours they worked, leaving them short of the federally required $7.25 minimum hourly wage and, at times, overtime pay.

Pay deductions for uniforms pushed workers below the minimum wage.

Employers must pay their employees the wages they have legally earned, said David King, the Labor Departments wage and hour division district director in Minneapolis, in a statement.

According to the Labor Department, Plaza Garibaldi in Redwood Falls cheated 30 workers out of more than $150,000; La Terraza Mexican Grill and Bar shorted 26 workers more than $160,000; Plaza Garibaldi Authentic Mexican Restaurant in New Ulm must pay 31 workers $390,000; and Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant in Mason City owes 26 workers nearly $130,000.

Anyone who suspects they are owed back wages may contact the Wage and Hour Division at https://www.dol.gov/whd/.

We encourage employers to make use of the many tools the Wage and Hour Division provides to help them understand their obligations, and to contact us for assistance, King said.

Paul Walsh 612-673-4482

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