DOL grills tortilla maker, gets agreement on back pay

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

A tortilla production company in Pharr, Texas, has agreed to pay $401,314 in back wages to 133 employees following a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation looking into allegations it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that between December 2005 and December 2007, De Maiz Tortilleria failed to pay the minimum wage and overtime to 133 current and former food production, packing and delivery employees.

The WHD’s Regional Administrator for the Southwest, Cynthia Watson, said that “[m]any of these employees were paid a flat rate of $25 a day for all hours worked. Some employees worked as many as 69 hours per week without overtime compensation.” According to the DOL, De Maiz cooperated with the investigation and is currently paying the back wages.

Final note: Remember that failing to pay overtime and at least the minimum wage may mean you end up paying double. That’s because employees are often entitled to collect twice their unpaid wages as a penalty when employers violate the FLSA.

Even more reason to think twice before breaking wage-and-hour laws: Clever attorneys often bring collective actions on behalf of all similarly situated past and present employees. The legal fees and penalties can add up fast.

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