August 6, 2013

SC business notebook, August 7

Upstate resturants must pay back wages; BoA accused of civil fraud; Price of Volt coming down; Waffle tacos a hit

Restaurants must pay back wages

Two Mexican restaurants in the Upstate are paying nearly $75,000 in back wages to 13 employees. The payments by El Jimador Mexican Restaurants in Clemson and Westminster come after a federal investigation. The U.S. Labor Department says the restaurants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping rules. Michelle Garvey with the Labor Department office in Columbia says workers at the restaurants often averaged 60 hours a week, earning less than minimum wage and getting no overtime. The agency says the restaurant admitted to violations by taking deductions from workers’ paychecks to pay for uniforms, along with failing to pay overtime and a failure to keep required records.

BofA accused of civil fraud

The U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008. The Justice Department filed a civil suit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related suit against Bank of America there, too. Bank of America disputed the allegations. The suits accused the second-largest U.S. bank of misleading investors about the risks of the mortgages tied to the securities. And authorities said the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network. That made the mortgages more vulnerable to default, they said. The government estimates that investors lost more than $100 million.

Price of Volt coming down

General Motors is knocking 13 percent off the sticker price of the Chevrolet Volt electric car as it tries to keep pace with rivals in the market for plug-in vehicles. The automaker said Tuesday that the 2014 Volt, arriving in showrooms later this summer, will start at $34,995, including shipping – $5,000 less than the current model. Sales of electric vehicles are rising, but they’re still only 0.2 percent of the U.S. auto market. Automakers have been forced to cut prices or offer discounted leases in order to sell the vehicles.

Waffle tacos a hit

Taco Bell says it’s expanding its small test of waffle tacos, as it prepares to take its breakfast menu national sometime next year. The fast-food chain says the waffle taco, which includes scrambled eggs, sausage and a side of syrup, was the top seller at the five restaurants where they were tested earlier this year. Now the company wants to see how it would fare on a bigger scale.

The Associated Press contributed.

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