CALIFORNIA – The U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that a restaurant in California must pay $824,405 in back wages and damages compensation to over a hundred workers following an investigation that uncovered illegal wage practices.
The investigation conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that the restaurant owner, Juan Francisco Fonseca, operator of La Estrella Tacos & Seafood at four locations in Manteca, California, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying overtime pay to employees for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week, as required by law.
One of the major violations identified was the lack of accurate and complete payroll records by the employer, making it difficult to verify hours worked and corresponding wages.
It was discovered that the employer attempted to evade payment of overtime hours by creating different business entities and segregating hours worked at different locations, aiming to avoid accurately calculating and compensating for overtime hours. Some employees ended up working up to an additional 26 hours per week.
District Director of the Wage and Hour Division, Cesar Ávila, based in Sacramento, emphasized that employers cannot shift their workers from one establishment to another within the same workweek to evade payment of overtime hours.
The violation of labor rights also resulted in fines imposed on the restaurant, amounting to $50,320 due to the intentional nature of the violations.
In addition to the $824,405 allocated for back wages and damages compensation, the restaurant must pay $50,320 in additional fines, totaling a significant payout as a consequence of its illegal actions and disregard for the labor rights of its workers.
This case serves as a reminder of the importance of compliance with current labor laws and maintaining accurate payroll records to avoid financial penalties and protect the rights and fair compensation of employees.