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MacKenzie River Pizza still in operation after settling civil suit

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - A local restaurant is still in operation after settling a civil suit with the Idaho Department of Labor.

MacKenzie River Pizza in Idaho Falls has agreed to pay a total amount of $319,000 after violating labor laws.

Local News 8 looked into the situation and what the Department of Labor inspection process looks like.

The restaurant offers flat-breads, salads, burgers and signature pizzas at three locations in Idaho.

An investigation into the Idaho Falls location began after a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Each case is received by a labor investigator who then visits the site in question, meets with the employer and conducts confidential employee interviews.

"They're looking at the employer's compliance with the applicable federal labor law. Here, it was the fair labor standards act, which governs the payment of minimum wage, overtime and tips were also a large issue in this case," U.S. Department of Labor Portland District director Katherine Walum said.

The investigation showed MacKenzie River Pizza paid servers and bartenders less than the federal minimum wage.

It failed to pay overtime rates and violated federal child labor laws by allowing workers ages 14 and 15 to work during school hours and longer than permitted by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A portion of servers' and bartenders' earned tips were also withheld. 

"What I can say is that we did assess $5,000 in punitive damages for the employer's retaliation against the worker who did confront the employer related to the employer's illegal tipping practices," Walum said.

In addition to this, the consent judgment orders the employer to pay roughly $140,000 in tips, unpaid minimum wage and overtime wages.

The court also orders the payment of $34,000 in penalties.  

The Department of Labor works hard to ensure fair labor practice in the United States across industries.

"The message that I want the public to take away is that the department of labor, the wage and hour division, our goal is to protect workers rights. And we do that by enforcing federal labor laws. We also serve employers by getting the word out, notifying them of their compliance obligations and working to level the playing field for employers so that everybody gets a fair opportunity to have a business in this country," Walum said.

We are still waiting for a formal statement from MacKenzie River Pizza about the court order and what changes they are making.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Ashley Chilcutt

Ashley is a reporter and producer for Local News 8.


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