ALBUQUERQUE ― The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS), in conjunction with the City of Albuquerque and the Bernalillo County Second Judicial District Attorney’s office, will be filing a lawsuit against Hacienda Del Rio, associated entities and principals David Rosales and Andres Rosales for violations of the state Minimum Wage Act, the Wage Payment Act, and the City of Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance.
Over the past two years, the NMDWS Labor Relations Division (LRD) has received as many as 47 wage complaints from employees of Hacienda Del Rio. Complaints included failure to pay wages for overtime hours worked, taking unlawful unauthorized payroll deductions, failure to pay for straight time hours worked, and providing employees with bad checks. The agencies will be filing this lawsuit on behalf of 33 of those employees.
“Employees deserve to be paid fair wages for a fair day’s work,” Secretary Bill McCamley said. “The Department takes wage theft very seriously, and we will be working with state prosecutors, and local governments on enforcement to make sure everyone gets what they are legally owed.”
NMDWS LRD is taking a strong stance on enforcement against employers found liable for wage theft. As the enforcement agency for underpayment or nonpayment of wages, NMDWS will ensure that employers who fail to comply with wage statutes and neglect to settle their claims or timely respond to the Department’s investigative inquiries will face steep civil penalties and possible criminal prosecution.
“This case involves a local business whose owners purposely withheld paychecks, tips and overtime pay from their employees. These men and women went to work, did their jobs and were left without wages,” said Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez. “We are proud to assist the special prosecutor in this case and work alongside the City of Albuquerque and Workforce Solutions to hold this business accountable.”
The state minimum wage increased from $6.50 to $7.50 in 2009 and is set to increase again to $9.00 per hour effective January 1, 2020. Certain cities enforce their own minimum wage, including the city of Albuquerque. Employers are required by law to pay their employees the highest applicable minimum wage. The Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance increased to $9.20 effective January 1, 2019.
While he was in the State Senate in 2009, then-Senator Tim Keller and Representative Miguel Garcia co-sponsored legislation to protect and empower employees who are fighting to recover wages lost due to wage theft.
“Our commitment to the working people who make our city and our local businesses run on a daily basis is unwavering,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “For years these laws sat unenforced because leaders weren’t willing to step up, but that’s changing today with historic coordination across three separate agencies. An economy that works for everyone means businesses and workers, and that’s exactly what we’re building together.”
Defendants Hacienda Del Rio, David Rosales, and Andres Rosales have ignored repeated requests by the Labor Relations Division for time and pay records of employees, even though all employers are required by law to provide such records upon LRD’s request. NMDWS continues to receive new complaints every month from employees who say they haven’t been paid their due wages.
The lawsuit seeks to recover statutory damages and interest from the Defendants and also seeks a permanent injunction to compel the Defendants to cease and desist from engaging in illegal pay practices.
Any employee who has not been paid earned wages may file a wage claim with the Department, as long as the last non-payment or underpayment of wages occurred within three years prior to the date of filing. A Wage Claim Form in both English and Spanish is available at www.dws.state.nm.us/Wage-and-Hour, or at any Labor Relations Division office or New Mexico Workforce Connection office. A report of violation of wage and hour laws may also be made over the phone by calling any LRD office.