OKLAHOMA CITY – The operator of seven Oklahoma City-area taco shop franchises claimed that workers requested higher hourly wages rather than being paid overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek – an illegal agreement whether the workers consented or not – and as a recent U.S. Department of Labor investigation shows, is a costly error by the employer.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Tavern Ventures LLC paid 164 workers at seven Fuzzy’s Taco Shop locations straight-time rates when they worked overtime hours, instead of time and one-half their regular rate of pay. The actions by the Oklahoma City-based employer violated the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The division recovered $348,007 in back wages for the affected workers. The investigation is part of the Wage and Hour Division’s Cross-Regional Food Service Workers initiative in the Southwest Region.

“Employers cannot enter into agreements with workers that violate pay practices governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Betty Campbell in Dallas. “The operator of these Fuzzy’s Taco Shops in Tulsa has learned a costly lesson. We encourage all employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division to ensure their pay practices comply with the law.”

Founded in 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas, Fuzzy’s Taco Shops is a franchisor with about 150 locations nationwide.

In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division conducted 4,237 investigations in the food service industry, recovering $34.7 million in back wages for more than 29,000 employees nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 958,000 food and accommodation services workers left their positions in December 2021. BLS projects about 41,400 openings for food service managers each year, on average, from 2020 to 2030.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

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