Federal court forces Chicago restaurant owner to comply with subpoena requesting documents for US Department of Labor wage investigation
CHICAGO – After more than two years, a Chicago restaurant owner has finally complied with an administrative subpoena to provide documentation for a U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation. The compliance comes after a federal judge held Wilson Torres, owner of La Bomba Food Restaurant Inc., in contempt and confined him to one night in jail and ordered him to pay $40,500 in fines.
On May 4, 2020, the department’s Office of the Solicitor filed a request with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, seeking to enforce the administrative subpoena the department issued as part of its wage and hour investigation of La Bomba Restaurant. During the next two years, La Bomba and Torres failed to comply with the subpoena repeatedly. Torres paid the department $2,975 in attorney’s fees in March 2022 after the department filed a contempt motion to enforce the subpoena. The owner’s lack of action prompted U.S. District Court Judge Martha Pacold to impose fines for contempt of court and the brief imprisonment on June 15, 2022.
In a status hearing on Aug. 23, 2022, the department reported that La Bomba and Torres had complied with producing most of the necessary documents. On Aug. 31, 2022, the department and La Bomba filed a joint stipulation of dismissal with the judge, after the Wage and Hour Division received the necessary documents to conduct its investigation.
“By enforcing the Department of Labor’s subpoena and holding a non-compliant owner in contempt, the federal courts have upheld that the Department of Labor has broad investigative authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act for record audits and on-site inspections to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago.
The Wage and Hour Division will now complete its investigation of La Bomba with the records received.
“We make no assumptions that we will find violations in La Bomba’s payroll records, but La Bomba and its owner Wilson Torres are required to comply with the law and allow such an investigation to be completed,” said Wage and Hour District Director Thomas Gauza in Chicago. “The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring all employees receive their rightfully earned wages.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for Android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
Walsh v. La Bomba Food Restaurant Inc.
U.S. District Court District for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
Civil Action No.: 22-cv-02678