Azteca Mexican restaurant in Akron has agreed to pay $118,354 in back wages and damages to 21 employees following an investigation by a division of the U.S. Labor Department.

This is the second time since 2013 that the restaurant on East Market Street has paid back wages and damages after an investigation by the labor department’s wage and hour division.

In the latest investigation, the wage and hour division found that Azteca Restaurante Mexicano Inc. and its owner, Salvador Alatorre, failed to comply with minimum-age, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the labor department.

The 21 employees will receive amounts ranging from $90.16 to $26,831.30. Fourteen of the employees will receive amounts greater than $3,000.

Alatorre said Wednesday in a phone interview that he installed a new computer system to keep track of employees’ hours and “everything is better right now, and we don’t have any more problems.”

“We’re working hard and trying to make everything good,” he said. “But it’s a very hard time for the little business. This is a family business. It’s not a chain.”

Alatorre started the business 18 years ago after working in the restaurant industry in Atlanta, Ga.

Federal investigators found that the restaurant paid kitchen staff fixed salaries, ranging from $550 to $675 per week, without regard to how many hours they worked.

This practice resulted in failure to pay required overtime when these employees worked more than 40 hours in a week, according to the labor department.

The restaurant also illegally deducted 3 percent of servers’ credit card sales from their tips, resulting in some servers receiving less than the minimum wage, the labor department found.

Under terms of the agreement with the labor department, Azteca Restaurante Mexicano has implemented a computerized time-keeping system in addition to paying the back wages and damages.

In early 2013, Azteca agreed to a settlement of $45,781 in back wages and damages to 18 workers after an investigation by the wage and hour division.

That investigation also found that Azteca paid some workers flat weekly salaries instead of hourly wages. The salaries didn’t meet the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and did not include overtime pay for hours worked more than 40.

Additionally, the labor department said the investigation found that servers were not paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week.

Separately, the city of Akron has filed a lawsuit in Summit County Common Pleas Court alleging that Azteca Restaurante Mexicano failed to withhold income tax due to the city.

The city said in the suit, filed Oct. 3, that Azteca owes the city “substantial withholding tax for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.”

The city is seeking a judgment of about $48,138, plus the costs of the legal action and interest.

Beacon Journal staff writer Amanda Garrett contributed to this report. Staff writer Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or