US Department of Labor recovers $101K for 10 sushi restaurant workers in Hawaii after employer denied overtime pay by misapplying exemption
HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $101,694 in back wages and liquidated damages from the owners of a Honolulu restaurant who denied full wages to 10 chefs — many of whom worked as many as 20 hours of overtime each week — by illegally excluding them from overtime compensation.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Keiji Fukuda and Yuki Naka – owners of Imanas Tei restaurant – denied the restaurant’s salaried chefs overtime pay by characterizing their primary work inaccurately as management rather than as meal preparers. By doing so, Fukuda and Naka failed to pay lawfully entitled overtime wages to the chefs for hours over 40 in a workweek, Fair Labor Standards Act violation.
In addition, the division learned Fukuda and Naka failed to keep records of all hours worked, including overtime hours, which led to federal recordkeeping violations.
“Overtime earned must be overtime paid,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terrence Trotter in Honolulu. “Paying salaries to frontline kitchen staff does not allow an employer like Imanas Tei to evade its obligation to pay workers all of their legally earned wages.”
In addition to recovering back wages and damages, the division assessed $4,488 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the violations. In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $27.1 million for more than 22,000 workers in the food service industry. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported near record numbers of job openings and workers in the accommodations and food services industry quitting their jobs.
The Wage and Hour Division also protects workers against retaliation and has regulations that prohibit retaliation, harassment, intimidation or adverse actions against employees that assert their worker rights. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division and how to file an online complaint. Workers and employers with questions can contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.
Download the agency’s new Timesheet App, now available for Android and iOS devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.