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Papasito Under Investigation for Alleged Labor Law Violations

UPPER WEST SIDE — The controversial Mexican restaurant that was busted recently for selling booze to underage drinkers is also facing scrutiny for possible labor law violations, authorities said.

The state Department of Labor is investigating Papasito Mexican Grill & Agave Grill for alleged violations of wage and hour laws, an agency spokesman said.

A waitress at the restaurant filed a complaint with the agency saying she was paid just $20 for 10-hour shifts at the restaurant, and that a supervisor improperly demanded a share of her tip money, she told DNAinfo.

Lina, a 28-year-old waitress who asked that her last name not be used for fear of jeopardizing her current job at another Upper West Side eatery, said she never filled out any paperwork, including tax forms, and was paid only in cash during the three weeks she worked at Papasito.

Lina described herself as an experienced server who's worked for seven years in the restaurant industry. She said she was surprised when the restaurant's general manager asked her to fork over some of her tips at the end of her shift. It's customary for servers to give a portion of their tips to supervisors called "captains," but not to general managers, she said.

"I want to teach them you can't do this," Lina said. "I want people to know what happened at Papasito."

The restaurant, on Broadway near West 104th Street, has sparked fierce neighborhood complaints from residents who say it's brought unwelcome noise and late-night disturbances to their block. Representatives for the restaurant say neighbors are exaggerating problems at Papasito.

In October and November, the restaurant was caught serving alcohol to underage auxiliary police officers, according to the State Liquor Authority.

The SLA and the Department of Labor aren't the only agencies probing Papasito. The Department of Buildings has issued a partial stop work order at Papasito for performing work without the proper permits, according to the DOB website.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection also issued a violation in October for strong odors at the restaurant, a spokesman said. Papasito could face a $400 fine for the violation, a DEP spokesman said.

"Everyone seems to be hammering us," said Papasito owner Eusebio Chavez. "It's unfair."

Chavez declined to comment further on the allegations facing the restaurant.