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Chuy's to pay over $100K in back wages

Posted at 1:20 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 03:20:12-05

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A Tucson restaurant chain is in trouble for not properly paying employees.

The U.S. Department of Labor says Chuy's Mesquite Broiler owes over $100,000 in back pay.

According to the Department of Labor, Chuy's will pay $114,964 in back wages and damages to 55 employees and $20,372 in civil penalties for violating minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Former employee Nicole Guzman tells KGUN9 she still hasn’t received her money.

“I hope, you know, karma comes after them,” she said.

Guzman worked for Chuy's between 2018 and 2019. She says it didn’t take long before she noticed some discrepancies

“We were getting hand written personal checks. So when I asked them about the personal checks, I was told that they were transitioning into a new bank account and so that they hadn’t received the proper information to get that in the process--but by the next paycheck it would be all set,” Guzman added.

She says she never received pay stubs or proof of employment. Instead she says she got more late payments.

“It was a struggle. There's times where our lights were going to get turned off and we would tell them we needed our payments. And they would ask what the electric bill was so that they could give us the amount of the electric bill,” she stated.

Guzman tells KGUN9 she filed a claim with the Department of Labor; an act that cost her her job.

One day I got fed up with it. I sent a message saying you know I’m going to have to file. Nobody’s giving me answers and...I lost my job,” she said.

She adds the owners of Chuy's owe her more than $1,800.

The Department of Labor say that money is on the way, and they said other employees -- in Nicole's situation -- should file a complaint.

“It's worth it. It's your money. You worked for it. It doesn't matter how log it takes. Just go for it,” said Guzman.

Now, as she waits for her compensation in the mail -- she asks the owners of Chuy’s for one thing.

“An apology would be nice too. You know for us going through all that stress,” she said.

The Department of Labor tells KGUN9, if an employer finds their own violations, they can report it without going to court.

As for how to get money you're owed by an employer:

  1. File your claim early -- waiting more than a year could negate your claim.
  2. If you're owed less than $5,000 you can file with the Arizona Labor Department for free.
  3. Employees also have the option of filing lawsuits in civil court.

For more information of how to file a claim or employee/employer rights, click here.