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Post date: March 17 2003

Agreement Provides Payment Of Back Wages To Workers

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement that will provide nearly $500,000 in compensation to more than 100 immigrant restaurant workers who were not compensated for overtime, in violation of state and federal labor laws.

Under the terms of the settlement, a chain of restaurants doing business as Burritoville, and its former owners, have agreed to compensate full-time workers who were not paid overtime.

The restaurants' former owners recently sold their interest in the company to a new corporation, Burritoville Systems, owned by TruFoods, Inc. The new owners of the chain will make the payments over the next three years. The former owners did not realize any profit from the sale, due to the cost of the settlement and other liabilities.

Under the terms of the sale, the new owner, Burritoville Systems, has agreed to retain all store-level employees who work at the chain's eleven Manhattan restaurants.

"The law requires that extraordinarily long hours be rewarded with higher pay. These workers did not receive any overtime premium, regardless of the hours they worked." Spitzer said. "Burritoville's new ownership means the chance for a fresh start for the employees of these popular neighborhood restaurants."

The settlement ends an investigation that began in the summer of 2002, when dozens of employees filed complaints with Spitzer's office. The investigation revealed that many employees worked between 50 and 70 hours per week, but were not paid overtime. State and federal law require payment of time and a half for overtime hours, or weekly hours past forty. Many of the underpaid employees were improperly classified as managers, who are exempt from overtime coverage.

The settlement will compensate those workers who file claims with the Attorney General's office, depending on the length of employment, wages, and hours worked.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terri Gerstein, of the Attorney General's Labor Bureau, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Chief M. Patricia Smith.