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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [01/24/2011]
Contact Name: Jeannine Lupton
Phone Number: (206) 553-7620
Release Number: 10-1788-SEA

US Labor Department recovers back wages, liquidated damages for underpaid Washington state restaurant workers

Super China Buffet and King Buffet will pay $420,000 to 83 employees

SEATTLE — Super China Buffet in Shoreline, Wash., and Great Dragon Inc., doing business as King Buffet restaurants in Everett and Marysville, Wash., have agreed to pay $420,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 83 employees. This agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor after an inspection by the department's Wage and Hour Division found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

"Vulnerable, low-wage workers have a legal right under the FLSA to be paid the required minimum wage and overtime by their employers," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "When employees are deprived of their rightful wages, employers should know that the Labor Department will not hesitate to use all enforcement tools at its disposal, including litigation when appropriate."

Wage and Hour Division investigators found that some waitstaff were paid only $10 per day, resulting in hourly pay below the federal minimum wage. In addition, the kitchen staff was paid a straight monthly salary with no overtime pay, even when working more than 40 hours in a week. Investigators also found many workers at the restaurants were paid in cash, and that time and pay records were nonexistent, inaccurate, incomplete or falsified.

The parties now have reached an agreement to resolve the investigative findings, which follows the filing of a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle, by the Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor. As part of the consent judgment, the defendants agree not to violate the FLSA in the future. The defendants also agree to pay $5,000 in civil money penalties to the government.

The FLSA requires that employers pay covered workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. For those employees who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips, employers may pay a base rate of $2.13 an hour in direct wages if the tips cover the difference. Additionally, the FLSA requires that employees be paid one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked over 40 in a week, unless otherwise exempt. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's district office in Seattle at 206-398-8039. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

Solis v. Great Dragon Inc., a corporation doing business as King Buffet; Super China Buffet Inc., a corporation; Xiu Lan Chen and Yun Cheng Zheng individually

Western District of Washington, No. C 09-1737-RSL