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News Brief

Court orders buffet restaurant, owners to pay $128K in back wages, penalties to resolve allegations of federal minimum wage, overtime violations

Employer: Hibachi City Buffet, Inc.

Sites: 72600 Dinah Shore Drive, Palm Desert, California

Investigation findings: Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Hibachi City Buffet violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They found the employees – cooks, dishwashers and servers – worked more than 60 hours per workweek on average, yet the employer paid a fixed salary, without regard to the number of hours employees worked. Minimum wage violations resulted when those salaries failed to cover all the hours employees worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Overtime violations occurred when workers exceeded 40 hours in a week, yet the employer still paid workers only their fixed salaries. Hibachi City Buffet also failed to keep time records showing how many hours employee worked, or how much they paid employees, as the law requires.

Resolution: A federal judge in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California approved a consent judgment between the department, Hibachi City Buffet, and its owners Wei Chen, Wu Chen and Honglin Chen. As a result, the restaurant and owners will pay 44 employees $90,000 in back wages. The judge has ordered the restaurant and its owners to pay $38,335 in penalties. The court also prohibited the employer from retaliating or taking any adverse employment action against any worker who exercises or asserts their rights under the FLSA.

Quote: “Vulnerable restaurant employees are often reluctant to complain when their employer fails to pay them the wages they’ve earned,” said Danny Pasquil, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in West Covina. “We urge all employees who are not paid legally to step forward. Cheating workers out of their hard-earned wages is illegal. As this consent judgment illustrates, we will continue to use every available tool, including asking the courts to step in, to ensure that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” 

Information: For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

Read this news release en españól.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
June 9, 2016
Release Number
16-1189-SAN
Contact: Leo Kay
Phone Number
Contact: Jose Carnevali