U-S Labor reaches agreement with area restaurants

Two area restaurants have agreed to pay workers back wages as part of a U-S Labor investigation. The agreement involves two El Jimador Mexican restaurants—one in Clemson and the other in Westminster, and requires the restaurants to pay more than $74 thousand in back wages. Michelle Garvey, director of the Columbia wage and hour office of the Labor Department, tells 96.3/WGOG NEWS the two restaurants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions at both El Jimador locations. But, she says, this case arose from investigations focused on the restaurant industry across the state, “It’s a problem that exists, not only in South Carolina, but throughout the country,” Garvey said. Other than tips, the Labor investigators have found instances of employees working for no cash at all. According to the Department of Labor, the restaurant industry employs some of the country’s lowest-paid workers who, due to a lack of knowledge of the law or an unwillingness to exercise their rights, are vulnerable to disparate treatment and labor violations. Federal law requires that covered, non-exempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for all hours worked, along with time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 hours a week. It requires that employers maintain accurate time and payroll records.