Department of Labor sues Kansas restaurants to recover $771K in minimum wage losses

The El Toro Loco location in Lenexa, Kansas.
The El Toro Loco location in Lenexa, Kansas.(KCTV5 News)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 12:14 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against the owner of two Kansas restaurants who allegedly denied minimum and overtime wages to employees after some worked as many as 66 hours per week.

The department’s complaint alleges that El Toro Loco Legends LLC -- which has locations in Kansas City and Lenexa -- and owner Alfonzo Herrera Hernandez, committed multiple violations of federal minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements.

The suit also names general manager Eugenio Yanez and location manager Yareli Perez.

It comes after the department’s Wage and Hour Division led an investigation that identified the violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and ordered the employers to pay $771,794 -- broken down by $385,897 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages -- to 75 employees of the restaurants to resolve its infractions.

“Overtime violations in the restaurant industry are far too common, particularly among vulnerable employees who don’t understand their rights to overtime compensation under federal law,” said Wage and Hour District Director Reed Trone. “The Wage and Hour Division provides confidential advice, if needed, to workers and employers unsure of federal wage standards and compliance with the law.”

Division investigators determined the employers paid servers a cash wage of $2.30 per hour and then either paid them for 80 hours of pay regardless of the number of hours they worked or paid time-and-a-half their cash wage for overtime. By law, employers are required to pay tipped workers time-and-a-half the minimum wage minus the tip credit. It also found the restaurants paid kitchen workers, hosts and food runners a fixed wage, regardless of how many hours were worked, and denied overtime to a manager who failed to meet exemption requirements.

Payroll records for El Toro Loco were investigated from May 24, 2020, to May 22, 2022.