Federal Court Grants Class Action Status in Case Against El Vaquero Restaurants for Wage and Hour Violations

On September 4, 2014, the federal U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified a class action lawsuit against eight “El Vaquero” Mexican restaurants in and around Columbus, Ohio. The lawsuit, filed by two former waitresses at El Vaquero’s Olentangy River Road location, alleges that the restaurant chain violated both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio’s minimum wage and overtime law because the restaurants did not fully pay overtime wages to workers, operated an illegal tip pool, and required employees to work off the clock. More than 450 restaurant workers are affected by the Court’s decision.

In the decision, Judge Marbley noted

"In support of her claims, Plaintiff has offered significant evidence of the alleged violations. Plaintiff has provided the Court with substantial documentation of the Defendants’ 'Weekly Time Sheets,' contrasted with the official 'Payroll Register' print-outs, showing that employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week were nevertheless paid overtime only on a two-week/80-hour basis. At this stage of the litigation, such evidence is sufficient to support Plaintiff’s allegation that this practice violates federal and Ohio overtime law, and that such a claim is common to all of the proposed subclass members. Similarly, Plaintiff has documented the alleged tip pool violations, by providing evidence of those individuals with ownership interests in the Defendant businesses, coupled with evidence of those individuals participating in tip pools together with non-management employees. Plaintiff has also offered evidence which, combined with her Declaration in support of her claims, could prove violations of federal tip credit law, the Ohio Constitution’s tip-retention requirement, and federal and state off-the-clock wage law.” (Internal citations removed, emphasis added.)

The class action includes the following El Vaquero locations: 33 Wootring Street, Delaware, Ohio 43015, 3580 West Dublin Granville Road, Columbus, Ohio 43235, 2195 Riverside Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43221, 9130 Dublin Road, Powell, Ohio 43065, 375 Stoneridge Lane, Gahanna, Ohio 43230, 1780 Rome Hilliard Road, Hilliard, Ohio 43026, 3230 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio 43202, 1566 Stringtown Road, Grove City, Ohio 43123, and 3160 Broadway, Grove City, Ohio 43123.

The Law Firm of Andrew Biller is lead counsel on the case along with co-counsel Markovits, Stock & DeMarco. Attorney Biller can be contacted at 614-604-8759 or andrewbilleresq@gmail.com.