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Restaurant cited for workers comp, wage theft violations

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The California Labor Commissioner cited a Chula Vista, California, restaurant more than $274,000 in back wages and penalties for multiple wage theft and labor law violations, some of which affected workers compensation, the office announced Wednesday. 

Dorantes Inc., doing business as La Querencia, is ordered to pay $164,688 to six workers who worked an average of nine hours per day, five days a week without breaks, and were paid on average less than $6 per hour, according to a press release. La Querencia was also fined $110,150 in civil penalties, workers comp penalties and wage statement penalties.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched an investigation into the Mexican restaurant in January and found that the owner was underreporting the number of workers employed there. The owner claimed only five employees, but investigators found 14 workers employed. Investigators in February also cited La Querencia $21,000 for failing to carry adequate workers comp insurance coverage.

“Honest business owners in California should not have to compete with businesses that skirt the law and deprive their workers of their hard-earned pay,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su in a press statement.