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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2019 1 year ago

Agave Azul ownership forced to pay back wages

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Investigations at the national level found that the Mexican eatery failed to pay employees what they were owed.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

The restaurant ownership group behind the Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine in the MetroWest area was recently in trouble with the law after failing to pay 91 employees money they’d earned on the job.

Investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division led to Rios Rodriguez Enterprises Inc. — owner of five Central Florida restaurants — having to pay $83,577 in back wages to 91 employees for violating the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to a June 12 statement from the Wage and Hour Division.

The ownership group was also forced to pay $21,266 in civil money penalties for repeated violations — a previous instance also involved Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine Inc., where cooks were paid a flat salary without overtime compensation.

The U.S. Department of Labor found that the employer failed to pay employees the minimum wage for all the hours worked. Rounding practices resulted in time worked not being compensated, according to a statement from the Wage and Hour Division.

Cooks were once again paid flat salaries, without taking into consideration the number of hours worked. Overtime wasn’t paid as a result, and the employer failed to maintain accurate payroll and time records — a violation of the FLSA’s requirements, according to the statement.

The investigation followed Rios Restaurant Group Inc. operating as La Fiesta in Ormond Beach; Rios Rodriguez Enterprises Inc. operating as La Fiesta in Port Orange; Saint Anejo Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria Inc. operating as Saint Anejo Mexican Kitchen in Winter Springs; Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine Inc. operating as Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine in Orlando; and Agave Azul Winter Park LLC operating as Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine in Winter Park.

“Employers must pay employees all the wages they have legally earned,” said Wage and Hour District Director Daniel White in a statement. “We encourage employers to contact their local Wage and Hour Division office for the resources available to explain their responsibilities and how to avoid violations.”

Rios Rodriguez Enterprises Inc. has paid all the back wages and civil money penalties in full. 

Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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