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Chula Vista Restaurant Fined $274,000 by State Labor Commissioner

The owner of Chula Vista restaurant La Querencia has been fined more than $274,000 for multiple wage theft and labor law violations by the Labor Commissioner’s Office, a division of the California Department of Industrial Relations.

The Mexican restaurant, which has been under investigation since January in response to complaints, was 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, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said Wednesday.

“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.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, which enforces wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, investigates retaliation complaints and educates the public on labor laws, also fined La Querencia $110,150 in civil penalties, workers’ compensation penalties and wage statement penalties.

An investigation by the Labor Commissioner’s Office found the owner claimed to employ five people at the restaurant while a total of 14 were in fact employed.

An audit of the restaurant revealed that La Querencia management denied six workers meal or rest breaks, and paid them a straight rate of $50 per day regardless of hours worked, from June 2014 through February 2017, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said.

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