OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The U.S. Department of Labor says it has recovered $59,049 in back wages and damages for 10 workers in Oklahoma.

An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found Eliseo Enterprises LLC, which operates Chile Verde Mexican Grill, paid employees varying amounts of pay without regard to actual hours worked and failed to pay overtime.

Investigators also learned the employer withheld some tips from the employee tip pool and used them to pay regular wages at the operator’s discretion.

Officials say withholding tips from tipped employees led to violations of federal minimum wage regulations.

The department also says the Oklahoma City restaurant operator didn’t keep proper time and pay records as required by law.

“Plain and simple, tips are the property of the workers who earn them, and employers cannot withhold tips given to tipped employees regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Michael Speer in Oklahoma City. “Many workers in the food service industry and their families depend on being paid all their rightfully earned wages and benefits, and being shortchanged harms them. The Wage and Hour Division offers assistance – in person, by phone and online – when employers disregard the law, they will be held to account.”

The department also determined Eliseo Enterprises permitted two of three 15-year-old employees to work between 22 and 27 hours per week and up to 39 hours.