US Department of Labor investigates Lupita’s authentic Mexican cuisine

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The US Department of Labor is currently investigating the county-based center Lupita’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine chain. All three State College sites are involved in the investigation, which began in June.

According to the Department of Labor lawsuit filed Friday, Lupita allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by employing unfair methods of overtime pay, appropriating tips and using intimidation tactics to compel employees to engage in certain activities.

Complaint allegations went on to say that Lupita co-owners Emilio Lopez Ramirez and Maria Guadalupe Rojas Orozco transported at least three workers from outside the United States and forced them to work on associated costs.

Deirdre Aaron, the attorney for the Department of Labor, wrote that some employees were housed in a rural area with no access to public transportation, which forced them to rely on transportation from Ramirez and Orozco. When the employees in question attempted to quit over the terms, Lupita “threatened to throw [those] employees out of destitute employer-provided housing,” Aaron wrote.

Additionally, the Department of Labor alleges that Ramirez and Orozco withheld a portion of overtime pay owed to an employee to cover rental costs. They later allegedly told the same employee that their debts were several thousand dollars higher than previously reported.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act protects a worker’s right to complain whenever employers deny them the wages they’ve earned,” said Labor Department regional attorney Oscar Hampton III, in a written statement. “In this case, the defendants’ conduct targeted particularly vulnerable employees who were trafficked to the United States and had to work for the defendants to repay their debt.”

“Attempting to coerce and deter vulnerable workers from asserting their FLSA rights, which the defendants have done here, is unlawful and cannot be tolerated,” Hampton continued. “We are committed to protecting workers from these acts of retaliation and to ensuring that employees are not prevented from making complaints about their working conditions.”

As of this story’s publication, Ramirez and Orozco have not responded with a comment.

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia with a major in journalism and political science and a minor in German and creative writing. He’s a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

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