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US Department of Labor obtains court judgment ordering Pennsylvania restaurant, owner to pay 68 employees $193K in back wages, damages

AVONDALE, PA – A federal court has approved a consent judgment ordering a Southeast Pennsylvania restaurant to pay a total of $193,817 to 68 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found the employer denied all of the wages owed them by law.

The action by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania follows the determination by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that Taqueria Moroleon Inc., operating as Taqueria Moroleon in Avondale, and owner Isidro Rodriquez failed to pay some tipped employees a cash wage, did not compensate some employees for training and meeting time, and paid employees straight time for all hours worked.

Investigators also found the employer failed to maintain complete time and payroll records and did not record some cash payments for wages. The division assessed a $47,235 civil money penalty for their Fair Labor Standards Act violations.

“Regrettably, for many restaurant industry workers, these types of minimum wage and overtime violations are not unusual,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director James Cain in Philadelphia. “This enforcement action will help ensure these workers – people who depend on every dollar to make ends meet – receive all of their hard-earned wages and hold their employer accountable for violating the law.”

In addition to recovering $96,908 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for the workers, the consent judgment permanently forbids the restaurant and its owner from future violations of the federal minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements.

View the consent judgment.

“By securing this consent judgment, the U.S. Department of Labor has recovered wages owed to restaurant workers employed by Taqueria Moroleon Inc. and owner Isidro Rodriquez,” explained Deputy Regional Solicitor Samantha N. Thomas in Philadelphia. “Our actions also demonstrate the department’s commitment to holding employers accountable when their pay practices violate the law and ensuring that employers who disregard the law do not undercut their competition.”

In fiscal year 2021, the division recovered nearly $35 million in back wages for more than 29,000 U.S. workers in the food service industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there were 1.4 million job openings in the accommodations and food service industries in September 2022, forcing employers to compete to fill their open positions.    

“Today’s workers are able to choose employers who will value them, pay their full wages and respect their workplace rights,” Cain added. “Employers who comply with labor laws and appreciate the dignity of work will have great appeal to workers new to the workforce or looking for new job opportunities.”

The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

For more information about workers’ rights and other employee rights enforced by the division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions regardless of where they are from, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.  Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App, now available for Android and iOS devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

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