PROVIDENCE – The owners of one of Rhode Island’s most popular restaurants have agreed to pay more than $780,000 for allegedly failing to pay their employees overtime premiums, according to a consent judgment filed Thursday in federal court.
Under the terms of the deal, Los Andes owners Omar and Cesin Curi will pay the US Department of Labor $787,000 in back wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties in monthly installments through June 2024. The labor department will distribute payments to current and former employees.
The Curis were not required to admit to any wrongdoing as part of the agreement, but they acknowledge they “became aware that they were not calculating employee overtime correctly,” according to spokesperson Bill Fischer.
“They are pleased to enter into a voluntary agreement that will pay the appropriate back wages to their valued employees,” Fischer said in a prepared statement. “It is important to note this matter solely relates to the calculation of overtime wages. The restaurant owners cooperated with this process and have been fully compliant with all wage laws and regulations since the miscalculation was discovered.”
The labor department’s probe focused on the restaurant’s payroll between October 2013 and October 2016. Investigators accused the business of failing to pay 128 employees time-and-a-half wages whenever they worked more than 40 hours in a week. In one example, a Los Andes wait staff employee worked 61 hours in a week during the summer of 2015, but investigators said the employee was not paid time-and-a-half for the 21 hours of overtime that he worked.
The Peruvian restaurant, located on Chalkstone Avenue, opened in 2009 and quickly became one of the most popular dining destinations in the city. It has been held up by city and state politicians as a model business in Providence, and has been the recipient of a federal small business loan to aid its expansion.
Fischer said Los Andes currently has 70 employees. A call to restaurant Friday afternoon revealed there were no dinner reservations available for Valentine’s Day.