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Mythos settles lawsuit over underpaid staff: Feds

Firefighters attend to a fire at Mythos in 2012. The restaurant recently settled a federal court case and had to pay more than $300,000 in back wages to 21 of its workers. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

A pair of Auburndale restaurant owners were forced to fork over more than $300,000 in back pay and damages after failing to fairly compensate their low-wage workers over the course of three years, authorities said Tuesday.

Mythos Authentic Greek Cuisine, owners Peter and Paul Theodoropoulos settled a Brooklyn federal court case July 29 brought by the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of 21 workers underpaid by the restaurateurs.

“Unfortunately, the minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping violations that were found at this restaurant are all too common in the restaurant industry,” said Maria Rosado, New York City’s district director for the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

That division performed an investigation that found from August 2008 to August 2011 the management paid restaurant wait staff no wages, instead making them work for tips only, the department said.

Along with improper record-keeping, investigators also concluded the owners failed to pay overtime compensation to busboys and kitchen staff, the department said.

The owners of the restaurant at 196-29 Northern Blvd, declined to comment.

Mythos management technically violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the department, which requires employees be paid at least the federal $7.25 per-hour minimum wage, along with 1 1/2 times their regular rate for every hour of overtime. The law also requires management to maintain accurate records of their employees’ wages and hours and prohibits retaliation against employees to speak out against illegal wage practices, the department said.

In addition to the back pay and liquidated damages, the Greek grub purveyors were ordered to pay a $7,100 civil penalty and post the rules of the Fair Labor and Standards Act in numerous languages inside the eatery, the department said.

“All employers who are violating the [act] should know that the department is committed to using all the tools at its disposal, including collection of liquidated damages and assessment of civil money penalties, to achieve compliance with the law,” Rosado said. “This employer’s failure to pay wages required by the [act] negatively impacts the workers who work without pay, their families and their competitors, who pay lawful wages.”

The money received from the Theodoropouloses will be paid to the workers, the department said, adding that typically lawsuits are its last resort.

Labor first tries to reach an out-of-court agreement with aggrieved workers and business owners.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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