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Yuma McDonald's franchisee shortchanged workers, U.S. Department of Labor says

Golden arches of McDonald's.
Nati Harnik
/
AP

McEmployees deserve all the McPay they McEarn.

That's what the U.S. Department of Labor has found for hundreds of workers in Yuma.

Labor Department officials on Wednesday announced a federal investigation that found the franchise operator of seven Yuma McDonald’s locations denied full wages owed to 332 workers. The department has recovered $128,796 in back wages and liquidated damages.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Jose Leon, a Calexico, Calif.-based franchise owner and operator, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements. They say Leon failed to pay time-and-a-half an employee’s required rate of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek.

Following its investigation, the employer paid $62,238 in overtime back wages and $62,238 in liquidated damages to the affected workers.

Ddivision officials said they also found Leon violated federal minimum wage requirements when he failed to pay some employees for all the hours they worked. The violation led to the recovery of an additional $2,160 in back wages and an equal amount in damages for eight workers.

The department assessed Leon $20,263 in civil money penalties for the nature of the violations, officials said.

In a released statement, Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Murray in Phoenix said “The investigation shows the costly consequences faced by an employer whose pay practices failed to comply with federal overtime and minimum wage requirements. Employers should review their pay practices and contact the Wage and Hour Division with any questions or concerns to avoid similar circumstances.”

Officials said that in more than 4,200 investigations in fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $34.7 million in back wages for nearly 30,000 food service workers. In March 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about 810,000 workers quit their jobs and more than 1.4 million job openings existed in the accommodations and food services industry.

Murray said as restaurant industry employers continue to struggle to recruit employees, those who deny their workers their full wages will likely struggle to find and retain the workers they need to operate their businesses.

The division enforces the law regardless of a worker’s immigration status and can speak confidentially with callers in more than 200 languages.

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For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).