JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - One of Alaska's most recognizable names in Mexican food is paying out nearly a million dollars for violating wage, overtime and payroll laws.
Gallo’s Mexican Restaurants and Taco King will have to pay more than $835,000 in overtime and damages owed to 159 employees, according to The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The state says the agreement for payment "represents one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages secured by the department’s Wage and Hour Administration."
Gallo's Mexican Restaurants and Taco King have multiple locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks. The state says those businesses failed to "maintain accurate payrolls."
This isn't the first time these companies were in violation of the state's wage and hour laws, according to the Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development. Previous company violations resulted in the collection of over $50,000 in unpaid wages and damages.
“Wage violations are not uncommon in the restaurant industry, where workers may not know their rights or are afraid to speak up,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “This enforcement puts money back where it belongs – in the pockets of hardworking people and their families.”
Alaska’s wage and hour laws require the payment of at least the state's minimum wage for all hours worked, plus overtime pay, to all covered nonexempt employees, according to the Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development. Paid overtime refers to the hours worked beyond eight in a day or 40 in a week.
The department says the law applies to all workers in Alaska, regardless of how they are paid, whether by time, piece, commission or otherwise. And paycheck deductions for broken dishes, cash register shortages or unpaid patron meals are illegal. The department also says that tips to the employee cannot be used to offset minimum wage.
Employers with questions about Alaska wage laws are encouraged to contact the Wage and Hour Administration, for more information.