News Release

Hawaii restaurant’s managers pocketed employees’ tips illegally, leading US Department of Labor to recover $91K for 35 workers

Sushi Bay, cited for overtime violations in 2017, assessed $3K in penalties

HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $91,097 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages for workers employed by a Kapolei restaurant that allowed its managers to pocket some of the tips earned by its servers, cooks and kitchen helpers.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Lance Yamamoto, owner of Sushi Bay, deprived workers of their full amount of tips they earned for serving the restaurant’s customers, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A restaurant employer cannot keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers and supervisors to keep any portion of those tips.

“Tips earned for service are the property of the people who earned them,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu. “Employers who withhold or allow managers to pocket tips that rightfully belong to those who received them for their hard work are breaking the law and will be held accountable.”  

In addition to recovering $45,549 in wages and an equal amount in damages, the division assessed Sushi Bay $3,842 in civil money penalties.

In 2017, the division found Sushi Bay in violation of federal law for its failure to pay employees overtime and recovered $22,146 in that investigation. The restaurant, which serves sushi using a conveyor belt, opened in 2013.

In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $27 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 free in English and Spanish for Android and iOS devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate. 

Wage and Hour Division
May 18, 2023
Release Number
Media Contact: Michael Petersen
Media Contact: Jose Carnevali
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