Dep?t. Of Labor Says Restaurant Underpaid Workers

A restaurant with branches in Cannon Falls and Red Wing has come under the scrutiny of the U. S. Department of Labor, as it investigated allegations of underpayment of overtime wages for staff. According to published reports, owners of Rancho Loco Grill and Bar in Red Wing and Rancho Loco Mexican Grill and Bar in Cannon Falls must pay 36 workers, after investigators determined most workers received only about half the pay they had earned. Ramon Ruelas, along with Jorge, Nancy, and Medardo Arcos are ordered to pay a total of $435,785 in unpaid overtime and minimum wages. The Deprtment of Labor found the restaurant paid servers and other front-of-the-house workers for 60 hours biweekly, regardless of the number of hours they actually worked. The employer also frequently required servers to report early for prep work but only allowed them to punch in when the first customers arrived. These practices led to the employer paying for far fewer hours than employees worked, triggering minimum wage violations. The report also states that by misclassifying cooks and dishwashers as independent contractors instead of employees, and paying them a flat rate without regard to the number of hours they worked, Ruelas and the Arcoses denied workers legally required overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The restaurants also failed to maintain accurate records of employee wages and the number of hours employees worked. The ruling was passed down on June 29 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

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