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Popular Mexican restaurant chain out $160K for ‘blatantly’ underpaying workers

Updated May 21, 2024 - 10:39 am

The Department of Labor has recovered more than $151,000 from a Las Vegas Mexican restaurant chain for shortchanging workers for overtime, and says the chain is a repeat offender.

The DOL said in a news release it completed an investigation into the La Mojarra Loca restaurant chain and found three locations didn’t properly pay employees overtime for working over 40 hours a week. La Mojarra Loca’s website shows it has four locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

The improper payments were a result of these workers being wrongfully labeled as exempt from overtime pay and were paid a flat salary no matter how much they worked in a week, the DOL said.

La Mojarra Loca had to pay over $160,000 in total for these violations, about $76,000 in back pay overtime wages for 33 employees and another $76,000 for damages for 33 employees and about $9,000 in penalties.

“The operator of these La Mojarra Loca restaurants has continued to blatantly underpay and deprive employees of their hard-earned wages despite repeated investigations,” Gene Ramos, the wage and hour division district director in Las Vegas for the DOL, said in a statement. “We are determined to do everything in our power under the law to stop the unacceptable practices of employers such as La Mojarra Loca.”

La Mojarra Loca didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time La Mojarra Loca has been investigated by the DOL, the chain has been investigated for similar claims, once in 2019 and twice in 2022, and those investigations resulted in $450,000 in back wages and damages as well as $34,000 in penalties being paid by the chain, the DOL said.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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