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Restaurant closes following federal suit

Lusby, MD – A prominent Mexican restaurant in Lusby has closed its doors and there is speculation in the community that the shuttering has to do with alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Recently, a federal judge ruled in favor of two former employees of Monterey Mexican Restaurant who, according to court documents, sought conditional certification of a collective action and facilitation of notice. “The motion is unopposed and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary,” stated U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in her memorandum opinion.

The ex-employees filing the suit were identified in court documents as Faustino Campechano Ruiz and Carlos Romeo Ruiz Ruiz. In addition to the restaurant, the defendants were identified as Luiz Rodriquez, Ronald Martinez and Ruben Leon, the owners or managers of Monterey.

The suit, which was filed last December, alleges violation of the FLSA for failure to pay minimum wage, violation of the FLSA for failure to pay overtime and violation of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime.

“Mr. Campechano Ruiz alleges that he was a cook from June 2010 to June 2013 who customarily worked 68 hours a week,” Chasanow stated. “For the entirety of his employment he was paid a weekly salary, regardless of the number of hours worked. He was not paid overtime for hours worked over 40 and from December 15, 2010 to June 1, 2012 his regular rate was less than the $7.25 per hour minimum wage. Carlos Ruiz was a waiter who worked roughly 59 hours per week. From November 1, 2012 to August 20, 2013 defendants did not pay him any wages. He only received tips. From August 20, 2013 to November 20, 2013 defendants paid him $3.63 per hour for the first 40 hours per week worked but nothing for any hours worked beyond 40, including overtime.”

This past April Faustino Campechano Ruiz and Carlos Romeo Ruiz Ruiz moved for “collective action for all individuals who worked at Monterey as a waiter or restaurant staff at any time since December 16, 2010 who have not been property compensated for their overtime work or have not been paid a minimum wage for all hours worked.”

Chasanow noted that the defendants did not oppose the motion.

Later in her opinion, Judge Chasanow noted that the plaintiffs have declared “they have personal knowledge that other waiters and restaurant staff have not joined this lawsuit because they do not have knowledge of their FLSA rights, they do not have knowledge of this lawsuit or they are afraid of retaliation from their employers if they join this lawsuit.”

The “opt-in period” for joining in the lawsuit was July 31.

A sign posted on the entrance to Monterey Restaurant stated that while the restaurant is closed, diners’ coupons would be honored at two locations of Plaza Azteca. Those restaurants are in Lexington Park and Prince Frederick.

A phone call to Monterey went unanswered. A message was left for the owner of Plaza Azteca in Lexington Park regarding the status of the Lusby restaurant. The return call had not been made as this story was being filed.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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