NEW ORLEANS - Two restaurant employees have filed a lawsuit against their employer claiming they were not paid at the federally mandated minimum wage rate or paid any overtime compensation.

Claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and breach of contract, Miguel Antonio Recinos Villeda and Nerlin Bladimir Oyuela Espinal filed suit against Carreta's Grill of Metairie on April 6 in federal court in New Orleans.

Villeda worked for the defendant from 2006 to July 2010, with his primary duty involving dishwashing. Villeda claims that he worked for the defendant an estimated 72 hours per week, but was only compensated at $500 per week.

Espinal worked for the defendant from July 2009 to Sept. 2010, with his primary duty involving dishwashing. He claims that he worked an estimated 72 hours per week, but was only paid at a rate of $350 per week.

The defendant is accused of not paying the plaintiffs at the federally mandated minimum wage rate and for not paying the plaintiffs proper overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Labor Department investigated the defendant's employment payment practices in 2010 and determined that it was in violation of federal regulations. Under an agreement with the federal government, Carreta's Grill agreed to pay each of its employees, including Villeda and Espinal, the back wages they were owed.

To date, the plaintiffs have not received their back wages, the lawsuit states.

The defendant is further accused of retaliating against the employees by cutting their pay and reducing their hours.

Villeda and Espinal are seeking an award of damages for overtime compensation, unpaid hourly compensation, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, court costs, and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jody Forester Jackson and Mary Bubbett Jackson of Jackson + Jackson in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00907

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