Department of Labor Recovers $114k In Back Wages From Operators of Yuma Sports Bar Who Denied Overtime Pay to 86 Workers

A federal investigation into the pay practices of a Yuma sports bar and grill has recovered $114,996 in back wages and damages for 86 workers employed by three owners who learned that denying employees overtime wages — deliberately and knowingly — is a bad and costly wager.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found Wheezy’s Sports Bar & Grill, operated by Tres Sisters LLC and its owners Maria Stefanakos, Yianoula Stefanakos and Elene Stefanakos, paid the affected workers at straight-time rates and in cash for overtime hours worked in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The division also learned the employer failed to keep time or pay records of employees who worked over 40 hours in a workweek, or records of any cash payments made for overtime.

“Wheezy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Yuma violated their employees’ fundamental rights to earn overtime wages for hours over 40 in a workweek,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Murray in Phoenix, Arizona. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts to protect workers’ rights can have costly consequences for employers who violate the law, especially when they do so deliberately.”

In addition to recovering $57,498 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, the department assessed Tres Sisters LLC with $14,231 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the violations.

In fiscal year 2022, the division recovered more than $27 million in back wages for over 22,500 people employed in the food service industry.

“Too often, our investigations in the restaurant industry find workers deprived of their fully earned wages, some by employers who misunderstand their legal obligations and in other cases, by unscrupulous employers who intentionally ignore the law,” Murray added.