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Original Tommy's Just Got Slapped With A Big, Sloppy Fine For Underpaying Its Workers

A cheeseburger from the Original Tommy's at Beverly and Rampart. (L.A. Foodie/Flickr Creative Commons)
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You may know Original Tommy’s for its gooey, gut-busting chili burgers, but 96 workers know it as the company that spent years underpaying them. Now, the Southern California-based fast food chain will shell out nearly $400,000 in back wages and fines.

Tommy's parent companies — Tomdan Enterprises Inc. and Koulax Enterprises Inc. (doing business as Original Tommy’s World-Famous Hamburgers) — recently agreed to a settlement with Los Angeles County's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in which they'll pay $397,775 for violating the county's Minimum Wage Ordinance. (The ordinance only covers work performed in unincorporated areas of L.A. County.)

Here's the breakdown of the settlement:

  • $147,775 — back wages paid directly to affected employees
  • $147,000 — fines paid directly to affected employees
  • $103,000 — fines paid to Los Angeles County
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The violations date back to July 2016, according to the DCBA.
Tom Koulax opened the original Tommy's stand in 1946 at Beverly and Rampart Boulevards, where it still stands. The chain now has 34 locations — 31 in Southern California and three in Nevada.

The Original Tommy's at Beverly and Rampart, at night. (Mr. Littlehand/Flickr Creative Commons)

The DCBA announced it has also reached a $79,002 settlement with Southern California Pizza Company, a Pizza Hut franchisee based in the city of Orange.

Here's the breakdown of that settlement:

  • $19,002 — back wages and fines paid directly to affected employees
  • $60,000 — fines paid to Los Angeles County

Investigators cited the company for violations at six Pizza Hut locations in unincorporated areas of L.A. County. According to the DCBA, most of the affected employees worked at the company's location in Los Nietos, an unincorporated area between Pico Rivera and Whittier.
In unincorporated areas of L.A. County, the current minimum wage for workers who perform more than two hours of work is $14.25/hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $15/hour for businesses with 26 or more employees.

[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the correct figures for the breakdown of the Pizza Hut settlement.]