Don Poncho

Don Pancho Mexican Restaurant is at 2365 Madison St. in Clarksville. CHERI REEVES

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found Don Pancho Mexican Restaurant will pay $563,350 in back wages to 120 employees after an investigation found minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act at three Tennessee locations in Mt. Juliet, Ashland City and Jackson.

The department also assessed the restaurant a $683 civil penalty for violating the child labor provisions of the FLSA.

WHD investigators determined Don Pancho Mexican Restaurant – headquartered in Clarksville – kept a percentage of servers’ tips to offset the restaurant’s expenses, in violation of minimum wage requirements. The law prevents employers from keeping workers’ tips. Don Pancho also failed to record all of the hours employees worked, which resulted in the employer’s failure to pay for the hours and triggered more violations.

Don Pancho Mexican Restaurant also paid some kitchen workers flat salaries, regardless of the number of hours they worked. The practice resulted in violations when those employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, but the employer failed to pay them overtime. Similar violations happened for employees paid flat daily rates regardless of the number of hours they worked. WHD also found the employer failed to maintain records of cash payments made to employees, which resulted in a recordkeeping violation.

The investigation also found Don Pancho Mexican Restaurant violated child labor requirements by employing a 15-year-old child to work outside of the hours allowed by law for the age group. WHD investigators determined the employer allowed the child to work more than 18 hours during a school week, more than 40 hours in a week while school was not in session, more than three hours on a school day, more than eight hours on a non-school day and later than 7 p.m.

“Employers must pay their workers all the wages they have legally earned. We encourage them to contact the wage and hour division with questions about how to pay a tipped employee or any other wage requirements, so that they fully understand their responsibilities,” said wage and hour division district director Nettie Lewis, who works in Nashville. “This investigation’s outcome reminds all employers to review their pay practices to ensure they are paying their workers as the law requires and demonstrates that the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to leveling the playing field for employers that play by the rules.”

The department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law such as online videos and confidential calls to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the wage and hour division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve the violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at dol.gov/agencies/whd.

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