News & Opinion

Hot Taco Hit with Federal Fines for Minimum Wage Violations

Hot Taco. (Photo by Katherine Winchester)

The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) ordered South End restaurant Hot Taco to pay $120,949 in back wages and liquidated damages to 67 employees for minimum wage violations resulting from illegal tip-pooling policies.

According to a DOL release, the restaurant illegally required tipped employees to share tips with non-tipped employees such as kitchen staff. The mandatory tip-pooling arrangement did not meet requirements mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“The employer’s failure to abide by the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act is a costly error, and one they might have avoided if they had contacted us for information about how to comply,” stated Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock in the release. “We encourage employers that have questions regarding tip credit rules or any other wage requirements to reach out to us to help them meet their obligations under the law.”

Hot Taco is owned by Bottle Cap Group, a Charlotte-based restaurant group that also owns Ink N Ivy, Whiskey Warehouse, Brazwells Premium Pub and other restaurants. The restaurant, which is located at Bland Street Station on the Light Rail Trail, stirred controversy when it opened in 2015 because of two racist statues depicting sleeping Mexicans on each side of its front doors. A petition to have them removed garnered hundreds of signatures that year.

Queen City Nerve reached out to Bottle Cap Group representatives and a managing partner at Hot Taco but have not gotten any responses. We will update this story as we receive more information.

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