Saturday, June 25th, 2022

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A New Hampshire restauranter recently involved in a federal case after managers inappropriately partook in tip sharing at his Concord burrito shop as well as a youth labor violation at his former Portsmouth location, is upset about recent coverage concerning the case — calling stories “misleading and slanderous” toward his company and its managers.

Joel Harris, the owner of Dos Amigos Burritos in Concord as well as a Mexican restaurant in Dover, New Hampshire Pizza Co, and other eateries, in an email to Concord NH Patch said the story last week contained “misinformation” and led readers “to believe that managers purposefully kept the tips from the staff and that the staff (has) not been fully reimbursed.” He was also upset that neither Patch nor the Concord Monitor contacted him before publication, to discuss the facts and findings of the case, which he claimed were conducted at random. Harris said the company took pride in the teamwork of its staff.

“Managers, in addition to performing their managerial duties, are also found on the cash register, making food, and bartending,” he said. “A mistake was made, yes, when we allowed them to participate in the tip pool, as they were working side by side with the rest of our team. Since our audit, we realize this was an incorrect procedure, and have rectified it. But let us assure you, no one ever was ‘stiffed’ tips. Our staff was bringing home tips on a daily basis.”

Harris said every single Dos Amigos Burrito employee found to be shorted tips due to the system the restaurant had in place was reimbursed fully “and then some.” In an ever-changing world of rules and regulations, “we are humans that make mistakes,” he added. Harris said the act of managers participating in the tip pool “was not a malicious or purposeful ‘stiffing’ of tips, all employees were aware of the systems in place” and said the store manager had been with the shop for more than a decade.

“We have righted the wrong, and are using this as a learning experience to continue to better ourselves,” Harris said. “We appreciate your support of our incredible staff and we appreciate you, our customers.”

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Edmund Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, confirmed all of the information published in the news release, which was the basis of the Patch story, was accurate — the restaurant improperly included managers in its tip pool which led to $61,788 in tips not being given to other workers. The act of managers participating in the tip pool led to the dozens of employees being stiffed, shorted, not receiving, whatever words one wants to use, of their proper compensation at the time. The restaurant “liquidated damages” for the 39 employees affected to rectify the violation and compensate them properly.

When paperwork about the case was requested, Fitzgerald said a Freedom of Information Act request would be needed to access the specific documents.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor did not inform news outlets of the timeline of the Portsmouth restaurant’s child labor violations at the time or that the eatery had been closed. Harris did not challenge those violations to Patch. Fitzgerald said the violations occurred between March 29, and Aug. 29, 2021.

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