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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [04/11/2011]
Contact Name: José A. Carnevali or Deanne Amaden
Phone Number: (415) 625-2631 or x2630
Release Number: 11-0334-SAN

Thai restaurant owner in Los Angeles agrees to pay more than $162,000 in back wages to 35 employees following US Labor Department investigation

LOS ANGELES — The owner of Ayara Thai Cuisine restaurant in Los Angeles has agreed to pay $162,201 in back wages to 35 employees following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation, which found that the company violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division Los Angeles District Office found that the restaurant paid the majority of its employees below the minimum wage. The workers were paid in cash at a flat rate for all hours worked, without regard to overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week as required under the FLSA.

Ayara Thai Cuisine has been in business since 2004 and is located near Los Angeles International Airport in the city's Westchester neighborhood.

"Many restaurant workers in the Los Angeles area are subject to unacceptable wage practices and irregularities, and we are determined to make sure that they and other vulnerable employees are paid proper wages," said Kimchi Bui, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Los Angeles District Office.

Kitchen employees at Ayara Thai were paid $80 to $110 for an entire 11- to 12-hour workday. The other employees worked six- to 12-hour workdays, and most received a daily rate of $45 to $50. However, investigators determined that the restaurant failed to keep records of the hours worked by and wages paid to all employees.

Ayara Thai owner Ayut Asapahu agreed to fully comply with FLSA regulations and pay all back wages due to the affected employees. Compliance includes maintaining accurate records of employees' arrival and departure times, and posting these timesheets in the workplace. Under the agreement, Asapahu also will properly classify all workers as hourly employees, and pay them full and accurate wages for all hours worked.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.

For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Los Angeles office at 213-894-6375. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.