“How Much Am I Owed?” | Ep. 3: The D.C. Cook Who Doesn’t Know He’s Not Getting the Minimum Wage

 In Minimum Wage, Overtime, Suing Your Boss

At DCWageLaw, clients who walk in the door often want to know: “How much money am I owed?!” So we decided to write a series of articles with examples of how we might answer this question.

In this edition, we look at the hypothetical example of a D.C. kitchen hand who doesn’t realize that he’s not receiving the minimum wage. This is one of the most common types of cases that we see.

Meet Mr. Argueta. Mr. Argueta works at “The Stinky Dragon” – a Chinese restaurant in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for cooking, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash, and other little things.
Mr. Argueta works 66 hours per week at The Stinky Dragon. He works 11 hours a day and 6 days a week (a fairly standard schedule for a cook in a D.C. Restaurant). His daily schedule is from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with a one hour break. He works Monday through Saturday, and has Sundays off.
Work schedule (horario de trabajo)
Meet Mr. Argueta’s boss, Mr. Stinky. Mr. Stinky pays Mr. Argueta a weekly salary of $500.00 every week.
Mr. Argueta has been working at The Stinky Dragon for 16 weeks. During those 16 weeks, he has almost always worked the same schedule of 66 hours per week. And during those sixteen weeks, Mr. Evil has always paid him a salary of $500.00 per week.
So how much might Mr. Evil owe Mr. Argueta?! The answer: A LOT.
Why is Mr. Argueta owed money?
Mr. Argueta has a big claim for minimum wages. This is because Mr. Stinky only pays Mr. Argueta $500.00 for 66 hours of work per week, or about $7.58 per hour ($500 ÷ 66 = $7.58). However, the minimum wage in D.C. has been $12.50 since July 1, 2017. It does not matter that Mr. Argueta was paid a salary; he is still entitled to the minimum wage.
Mr. Argueta also has a big claim for overtime wages. Workers like Mr. Argueta should generally earn at least one and half times the current minimum wage, or $18.75, for the hours they work over 40 in a week (1.5 × $12.50 = $18.75). Once again: it does not matter that Mr. Argueta was paid a salary; he is still entitled to overtime wages.
Mr. Argueta is a smart guy, so he comes to DCWageLaw so we can evaluate his claim.
For the 16 weeks of work, Mr. Stinky owes Mr. Argueta $7,800.00 in minimum and overtime wages.
(16 semanas × ((40 horas regulares × $12.50 sueldo mínimo) + (26 horas extras × $18.75 sueldo mínimo por horas extras) – $500.00 salario))
Moreover, the D.C. Minimum Wage Act says that employers like Mr. Stinky may be liable for 4 times the amount of any unpaid wages (4 × $7,800.00 = $31,200.00).
That means, under D.C. law, Mr. Stinky and The Stinky Dragon may owe Mr. Argueta $31,200.00!!!

If this story sounds familiar, or if you think you may have some type of claim for unpaid wages, contact us for a free case consultation.

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