Las Trancas ordered to pay back wages

MARIETTA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Las Trancas Inc. will pay more than $365,000 in back wages to 36 workers employed at two locations, one at the Lafayette Shopping Plaza in Marietta and the other in Clarksburg.

Thirteen workers at the Marietta location were affected, with back wages totaling $172,832, and 23 workers were affected at the Clarksburg location, with back wages totaling $193,000. The company was also fined $15,520 in civil money penalties for willful and repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), officials said Monday.

An investigation started in 2008 at the Clarksburg location, and the initial investigation showed the company breaking the FLSA, officials said. The Clarksburg location is still in violation, according to investigators.

Department of Labor spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins said the investigation in Marietta is more recent.

“Investigators were assigned the case in Marietta in December of 2013,” she said, adding the investigation looked at back wages dating back to February 2012.

Investigators found that the employer failed to recognize how many hours servers worked and failed to pay them for any hours worked beyond 40 hours, officials said. The FLSA said operators can benefit by claiming a credit toward their minimum wage obligations based on the tips that servers receive.

If this tip credit is claimed, operators are required to pay a tipped employee $2.13 per hour in direct wages, as long as the total equals the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Because the employer failed to compensate servers at all for any hours worked beyond 40 hours a week, the use of tip credit was denied and Las Trancas was required to pay tipped employees the full minimum wage amount for all hours worked, officials said.

Owner Martin Arellano could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Money for the Clarksburg wages has been paid by the company, as has the civil money penalties. The money for the Marietta wages is owed around November and is to be paid back through a payment plan, officials said.

Hawkins said Las Trancas has five restaurant locations and has agreed to follow the FLSA at the sites.

“They have five (locations) altogether and we looked at all of them,” she said. “(Marietta and Clarksburg) were the only two with violations. (The company has) agreed to future compliance (of FLSA); they have to follow FLSA like everybody else.”