U.S. Department of Labor Recovers $271,240 for Employees at Tennessee Restaurant After Investigation Finds Wage and Child Labor Violations

Press Release # Local

COOKEVILLE, TN - Fiesta Cancun Grill Inc. – a restaurant in Cookeville, Tennessee – has paid $271,240 in back wages and liquidated damages to 25 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found the employer violated minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employer also paid a civil penalty of $1,451 for federal child labor violations.

WHD determined the employer violated minimum wage requirements when it failed to pay servers for all of the hours that they worked, requiring them to work only for tips during some of their hours. Fiesta Cancun Grill also failed to pay required overtime to cooks, bussers, and servers when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek; and failed to maintain required payroll and time records, including records of all hours worked by employees each day and workweek.

WHD also found that Fiesta Cancun Grill Inc. employed a 15-year-old employee to engage in a hazardous occupation by allowing him to regularly use a convection oven, and lower and lift food into and out of hot grease, violations of FLSA child labor requirements.

The employer also employed the minor employee to work outside of the hours legally allowed for workers under 16 years of age, and for more hours than allowed by law. Investigators determined the minor worked more than 8 hours per day and more than 40 hours per week, in violation of FLSA limitations. WHD also found Fiesta Cancun Grill failed to maintain a record of the dates of birth for minor employees.

“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing meaningful work experience for young people and keeping them safe on the job,”
said Wage and Hour Division District Director Nettie Lewis, in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Additionally, employers must pay employees all of the wages they are have legally earned for all of the hours they have worked. The U.S. Department of Labor encourages all employers to review their employment obligations and to contact us for compliance assistance.”

The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA, child labor, and other laws enforced by the WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the FLSA.


HD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes.

Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.