Scottsdale restaurant company paying $105,000 in overtime, back wages

by Angela Gonzales

Grassroots Kitchen and Tap is paying more than $105,000 in overtime back wages and damages to 19 employees as part of a crack-down by the U.S. Department of Labor.

What happened was 19 employees — mainly cooks — worked at all three of the company's restaurants around the Phoenix area, including Grassroots Kitchen and Tap #1, 8120 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale; Grassroots Ktichen and Tap #2, 2119 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix; and Twisted Grove Parlor and Bar, 8220 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale.

But what the Scottsdale-based company failed to do was combine the hours worked at all the facilities, which often exceeded 40 hours in a workweek, said Jesus Olivares, community outreach specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Phoenix.

Not only are the hours supposed to be added up for the time worked at each facility, but travel time to and from each restaurant also should be considered work time, he said.

"Cooks are some of the most vulnerable workers in the industry," Olivares said. "They tend to work a lot of hours and many times they do not get paid overtime. Many of them are Hispanic or migrant workers who aren't aware of how overtime is paid or should be paid. All of these things combined often lead to wage violations for cooks."

Christopher Collins, owner of Grassroots Kitchen & Tap and Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar, said he was shocked when he heard from the Labor Department.

"As local restaurant operators that employ 300 people here in the Valley, we were as surprised as anyone to learn we had been misinformed on overtime policies from our payroll company and we immediately set out to correct the situation with the Labor Department,” he said. "This came as a shock but fortunately we were able to resolve the situation quickly, and all of the employees affected are still with our company today.”

Read the full article from the Phoenix Business Journal.