A majority owner of two Iowa restaurants has paid $833,992 in back wages to 64 employees to resolve federal wage violations, including falsifying payroll and time records and failing to pay required minimum wages and overtime. Investigators determined that Gloria Ochoa, majority owner of Rojas LLC and Ocha Inc., which do business as El Rodeo Mexican Restaurants, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Ochoa has also paid a civil money penalty for violating child labor regulations.
Investigators determined that Ochoa violated minimum wage requirements when she required servers to cash their paychecks and return the amounts of the checks, in cash, to the employer. Ochoa also required servers to surrender $20 from their daily tips to the employer. Additionally, the restaurants kept no time records reflecting when employees worked, instead paying workers for 80 hours biweekly regardless of their actual hours. This practice resulted in overtime violations when employees worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek, yet received no overtime pay. Employees routinely worked 55 hours per week. Investigators also determined that Ochoa employed a minor employee outside of the work hours allowed by the FLSA’s child labor requirements.
Employees depend on receiving all the wages they have rightfully earned. The resolution of this case demonstrates investigators’ commitment to those workers and to leveling the playing field for employers who play by the rules.
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