LA operator fined for labor violations

LOS ANGELES In an ongoing crackdown on labor violations, California's Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition, or EEEC, has fined a local restaurant operator more than $130,000, citing mistreatment of workers for more than a decade, state officials said Thursday.

Julio Cesar Cervantes, owner of El Bucanero, a seafood restaurant with two Los Angeles locations, was fined $10,000 for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance and $85,750 for paying his 10 employees in cash without itemized wage deduction statements or pay stubs. He was ordered to send employees home until the business could prove a workers’ compensation policy was in place, officials said.

“This is a classic example of an employer flaunting the laws, taking advantage of workers and creating an unfair economic advantage over employers who follow the laws and contribute to the state’s economy,” said David Dorame, EEEC executive director.

The investigation is part of an ongoing effort to enforce the state’s labor code, which offers basic worker protections. In January, more than 140 restaurant operators were issued more than $844,000 in fines for labor violations, including failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance, payroll violations and not abiding by child labor laws.

Cervantes also faces penalties of $17,150 for failing to pay the minimum wage and another $17,150 for failing to pay overtime, the EEEC said. Investigators are also reviewing the restaurant’s meal and rest break records.

An inspection earlier this week also found safety violations at the two restaurants and poor sanitation, including dirty bathrooms and no toilet paper for employees’ use, officials said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [3].