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Hacienda del Rio Wage Theft Lawsuit Ends

Defendant required to pay out over $140,000 in damages.

June 25, 2021

The wage theft lawsuit against the Hacienda del Rio restaurant, which state and local agencies initiated in 2019 has concluded. One of the worst historical offenders of wage theft, the Hacienda del Rio restaurant, was shorted individual employees anywhere from $92 to $5,000, underpaid and failed to pay employees, made unauthorized payroll deductions, and issued bad checks.

In 2019, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS), in conjunction with the City of Albuquerque and the Second Judicial District Attorney’s office, filed the lawsuit against Hacienda Del Rio, associated entities and principals for violations of the state Minimum Wage Act, the Wage Payment Act, and the City of Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance. At the conclusion of the lawsuit, the defendants owe $149,693.83 in damages, plus 10% interest per year, which will be paid out to the 51 claimants on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed.

“The judgment against the Hacienda del Rio defendants, one of the worst historical offenders of wage theft, sends an important message that the City will not hesitate to use all the tools at our disposal to address violations of workers’ rights and income,” said Esteban Aguilar Jr., City Attorney. “Rather than pay for an honest day’s work, a few bad actors chose to steal wages and tips from their employees. This practice affects the lowest wage workers, the people who can least afford to lose earnings, and increases workers’ reliance on public assistance.”

"I am proud that our partnership with the City of Albuquerque and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions resulted in this historic judgment on behalf of working people," said Raul Torrez, Bernalillo County District Attorney. "This case should also serve as a powerful warning to others that we will protect employees and make sure they receive an honest day's pay, for an honest day's work."

“Governor Lujan Grisham’s administration as well as the Department of Workforce Solutions have a zero tolerance stance on wage theft,” said Ricky Serna, NMDWS Acting Secretary. “Employees deserve to be paid fair wages that follow state and local area wage laws. I’m proud of the work our Labor Relations Division has done in partnership with state prosecutors, and local governments on enforcement and justice for our fellow New Mexicans.”

The City continues to work with the Department of Workforce Solutions and other partners to develop an intentional approach to enforcement of wage and labor laws.