ORANGE PARK, Fla. - A location of a local popular Mexican restaurant chain has been ordered to pay its employees nearly $178,000 in back wages just eight months after two of the restaurant's other locations were ordered to pay more than $934,000 in back wages and liquidated damages.
La Nopalera's Fleming Island location, 1571 County Road 220, #100, Orange Park, will pay $177,935 in back wages to 24 employees and $1,558 in overtime pay to two of those employees, which is part of the total thatis due, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Labor.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that the restaurant violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. During the investigation, it was found that employees only received customer tips for their wages and did not receive overtime pay for work done beyond 40 hours.
Employees were also forced to work "off the clock" before and after their regular shifts. Proper payroll records were not maintained, according to the release. Other La Nopalera locations in Florida and Georgia were not part of this investigation.
"Last August we announced that more than $934,000 in back wages were found due to employees of two other restaurants in Florida doing business under the same franchise name, and we continue to hold employers accountable when they abuse low-wage workers," said Michael Young, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Jacksonville District Office, which conducted the investigation. "Companies that play by the rules must be protected from those who use unscrupulous tactics to gain a competitive advantage."