A Mexican restaurant in Cary agreed to pay its workers back wages it owed for skimping on overtime pay and tips.
Los Tres Magueyes  paid 13 workers a total of $145,636 in money owed for unpaid overtime, tips taken from servers and hourly wages, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
The restaurant chain has several locations in the Triangle, as well as one in Danville, Va. Nell Navarro, who identified herself as one of the family member owners of the restaurant, said she had no comment on the settlement when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon at the Cary location.
Waiters and waitresses at the Cary location were paid $3.15 an hour, but only for the first 40 hours they worked, according to the labor department investigation. When working overtime, wait staff only received tips (and no wages) and had to pay $200 a week into an illegal “tip pool” that both servers and non-tipped employees had to participate in, according to the labor department news release. Labor investigators also found kitchen staff had fixed monthly salaries, regardless of the number of hours they worked each month.
“We found many low-wage employees working up to 50 hours a week without any overtime compensation and receiving pay below the federal minimum wage,” said Richard Blaylock, the director of the agency’s wage division office in Raleigh.
Federal wage law allows restaurant servers to be paid as little as $2.13 an hour, but only when the wait staff earn enough in tips to bring the total wages to the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. Employers are required to make up the difference.