Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WESTBURY, N.Y. -- A chain of five Japanese restaurants in Suffolk and Nassau counties and president Wen Chun Su, also known as Walter Su, have agreed to pay a total of $764,796 in back wages, liquidated damages and interest to 161 employees, according to the terms of a consent judgment that resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The suit resulted from an investigation by the Long Island District Office of the department's Wage and Hour Division which found that, since 2008, Su and the following restaurants had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions: Ta-Yeh Restaurant Inc. doing business as Tai Show Sushi in Massapequa, DMK Corp. doing business as Tai Show Hibachi in Massapequa, D&M Japanese Restaurant Inc. doing business as Tai Show East in Oakdale, Su's Inc. doing business as Tai Show West in Levittown and Ta-Ming Ltd. doing business as Tai Show North in East Setauket.
Among the violations were an illegal arrangement in which tipped and nontipped employees shared tips; not paying workers the required minimum wage and overtime rates; and not keeping and maintaining adequate and accurate records of employees, their work hours and their total straight time earnings for each workweek. Additionally, some employees were paid flat monthly salaries, without regard to hours worked, that did not meet the FLSA's minimum wage or overtime requirements. Investigators used extensive surveillance coupled with forensic accounting to prove that employees were being paid "off the books," and to establish the number of hours actually worked by employees both on and off the books.
"Due to the prevalence of these types of violations in the restaurant industry, we are continuing to focus our compliance and outreach activities on other restaurants in Nassau and Suffolk counties," said Irv Miljoner, the Wage and Hour Division's Long Island district director. "Our goal is to change the behavior among violators so that workers will receive their just wages, and law-abiding employers will be able to compete on a level playing field. This lawsuit and the resulting consent judgment that provides for back wages, liquidated damages and penalties underscore the Labor Department's commitment to enforcing the law and removing the incentive to pay employees off the books. Other restaurants should take notice and ensure that they are paying their employees in compliance with the FLSA."
According to the judgment, the defendants will pay $62,622 in civil money penalties plus interest to the department for the violations, and also will inform employees orally and in writing – in English and any other language spoken by the employees – of their rights under the FLSA, including minimum wage and overtime pay as well as protection against employer retaliation for engaging in protected activities.
The FLSA requires that covered nonexempt 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. In accordance with the FLSA, an employer of a tipped employee is required to pay no less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages provided that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages do not equal the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Employers are also required to provide employees notice of the FLSA tip credit provisions and to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for the back wages owed and liquidated damages.
The case was litigated for the Labor Department by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York and the judgment was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
For more information about the Fair Labor Standards Act, contact the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or contact its Long Island office, located in Westbury, at 516-338-1890. Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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