El Rodeo, El Toreo to pay $3 million to employees. Do you know your labor rights?

ROANOKE,Va. – After learning that six Roanoke El Rodeo and El Toreo restaurants and their owners will have to pay $3 million in back pay and damages, 10 News worked to learn more about labor laws and workers rights.

Many are not aware of the laws and rights that protect workers when it comes to wages.  

Most hourly workers must be paid at least the federal wage of $7.25, but it gets complicated when it comes to the wages for restaurant workers. That is because the minimum wage for them is $2.13 an hour.

The employer will then make up the difference for his or her employees if the $7.25 an hour threshold is not met.

Jon Saunders, the general manager at Fork in the Valley in Roanoke, explained an example of that policy.

“If you come in and don’t get any tables because it’s slow we have to come in and make up the difference between the $2.13 and $7.25,” General Manager Jon Saunders said. “It is a safeguard for everyone.”

Many restaurant workers rely heavily on the tips they receive. Even with tip-sharing and no tipping, these workers rely on tips to make up their minimum wage.

“I don’t know if the restaurant industry would be as sustainable as it is if people didn’t tip,” Saunders said.

There are many resources that are in place for situations just like this.

“If the employer is violating the statue and not paying them the minimum wage, they can file a complaint with the federal agency called the United States Department of Labor,” Attorney Terry Grimes said. 

It is also illegal for an employer to fire a worker who files a complaint about them violating the law. The statute of limitations for a claim is for two years.