El Paso Mexican Grill ordered to pay over $650K in back wages for labor law violations

El Paso Mexican Grill in Metairie

NEW ORLEANS — A Tex-Mex restaurant with a dozen locations in the New Orleans area has been ordered to pay more than $650,000 in back wages to 567 employees at 23 of its locations in Louisiana and Florida.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, El Paso Mexican Grill owes $654,366 for violating multiple labor laws, including:

  • Deducting costs for uniforms from workers’ pay
  • Failing to pay employees for all the hours they worked
  • Paying flat salaries to some kitchen staff instead of paying them overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week
  • Paying tipped employees time-and-a-half of their direct cash wages for their overtime hours instead of basing their rates on the full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour
  • Failing to keep accurate records of hours worked by salaried kitchen staff and inaccurately recording wait staff’s earnings

“Companies that fail to pay employees the wages they have legally earned must not gain a competitive advantage over those that comply with the law,” said Troy Mouton, wage and hour division New Orleans district director. “The U.S. Department of Labor encourages restaurant owners and all employers to reach out to their local Wage and Hour Division office for information about how to comply, and to make use of the many tools we offer to explain their responsibilities and how to avoid violations.”

According to the restaurant company’s website, El Paso Mexican Grill has 22 locations in Louisiana, including Chalmette, Cut Off, Houma, LaPlace, Luling, Mandeville, Marrero, Metairie, New Orleans, Raceland, Slidell and Thibodaux.