Former El Vaquero Employees File Class Action Lawsuit for Unpaid Wages

Columbus, Ohio -- Jul 31, 2012 -- On July 18, 2012, two waitresses filed a class action lawsuit against the El Vaquero restaurants in and around Columbus, Ohio. The waitresses are former El Vaquero employees and are seeking unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation on behalf of themselves and other servers that worked at any of El Vaquero’s nine Columbus area locations. The lawsuit asserts that El Vaquero violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act (OMFWSA), and Ohio’s minimum wage constitutional amendment. The waitresses filed the action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The lawsuit, Castillo, et al. v. Morales, Inc., et al., case number 2:12-cv-650, alleges that El Vaquero violated minimum wage laws by requiring restaurant servers to contribute to an illegal tip pool. According to the waitresses’ Complaint, El Vaquero required servers to give the restaurant a portion of their tips based on a percentage of the servers’ total sales. The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant kept the tip money and even referred to it as “El Vaquero’s money.” 

In addition, the lawsuit contends that servers worked a significant amount of time both before and after their scheduled shifts. The plaintiffs claim that El Vaquero did not pay servers for this time. If proved, El Vaquero could be liable for both unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation for the servers’ “off the clock” work. 

The lawsuit seeks unpaid wages, unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated and treble damages, and attorney’s fees on behalf of servers at El Vaquero’s nine Columbus, Ohio locations. Attorney for the plaintiffs, Andrew Biller noted, “If an employer pays workers tipped minimum wage, then the employer has to follow certain rules. If the employer doesn’t, then the employer is liable to pay workers back wages to bring them up to regular minimum wage. This is true regardless of how much workers may have earned in tips.” The FLSA and Ohio’s minimum wage constitutional amendment allow workers to receive additional damages up to one or two times their unpaid wages. 

Mr. Biller, of the Law Firm of Andrew Biller, represents the two former waitresses. Mr. Biller has represented hundreds of workers in wage and hour cases. The majority of those workers have been employed in the restaurant and bar industry. 

As of July 31, 2012, the defendants have not filed a response to the waitresses’ Complaint. The Court has not yet determined whether the case may proceed as a class or collective action.

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View the Complaint.


The Law Firm of Andrew Biller
Andrew Biller
(614) 604-8759