A New Orleans East bakery that set off frenzied demand for its king cakes this Carnival season has now drawn the censure of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery, long regarded as a cornerstone in its Village de l'Est neighborhood, has been ordered to pay $127,128 in overtime wages after an investigation by the federal agency.
Investigators said the bakery on Chef Menteur Highway violated overtime requirements by paying employees "straight time" for all the hours they worked and failing to pay overtime when workers logged more than 40 hours.
The Labor Department ordered the bakery to make payments to 43 employees. The company was also found to be paying some workers in cash with no documentation.
No timeframe for the alleged violations was specified.
“Employees who work long, hard hours to make ends meet count on being paid for every hour they work, including the time-and-one-half the law requires when they work overtime,” said Betty Campbell, the department's Wage and Hour Division regional administrator in a news release.
The federal order comes during what has already been an eventful year for Dong Phuong.
Opened in 1981 in a neighborhood that became an enclave for Vietnamese immigrants, it has long been known for its traditional pastries and bread.
More recently, it earned a citywide following for its rendition of the king cake and eventually developed a distribution network to sell them through other shops and restaurants around New Orleans. In the midst of this year's Carnival season, however, Dong Phuong announced it would restrict sales to its own bakery in New Orleans East, citing overwhelming demand.
Also in 2018, the prestigious James Beard Foundation named the bakery a recipient of one of its America’s Classics awards, which recognize establishments of “timeless appeal” that serve food “that reflects the character of their communities.”
New Orleanians will go to great lengths for their favorite king cakes. Now, devotees of the particular king cake from Dong Phuong (14207 Chef …