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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [08/22/2011]
Contact Name: Deanne Amaden or José A. Carnevali
Phone Number: (415) 625-2630 or x2631
Release Number: 11-1174-SAN

Restaurant group to pay nearly $145,000 in back wages to 66 Southland workers following US Department of Labor investigation

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles-based Japanese restaurant group has agreed to pay back wages of $144,721 to 66 employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that disclosed systemic violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions. The violations were found at seven locations of Bishamon Group Restaurants in Monterey Park, Covina, Arcadia, Costa Mesa and downtown Los Angeles. The employer does business using the names Ebisu Japanese Tavern, Tamon, Bishamon, Bento-ya and Daikokuya.

Through interviews and a review of payroll records and time sheets, investigators found that dishwashers, prep cooks and cooks worked an average of 45 to 50 hours per week and were paid "straight time" wages for all hours, rather than time and one-half their regular rates for all overtime hours as required under the FLSA. Employees were issued payroll checks for their regular work hours and then paid in cash at the straight time rate for their overtime hours. Investigators also found that one worker was not issued a final paycheck.

The Wage and Hour Division learned of the restaurants' practices through its participation in the Employment Education and Outreach partnership, known as EMPLEO. Now in its seventh year, EMPLEO is an alliance of organizations and government agencies that assist Spanish-speaking workers and employers with work-related concerns. The EMPLEO toll-free helpline, 877-55-AYUDA (552-9832), is staffed by trained volunteers from the Diocese of San Bernardino's Catholic Charities Center and the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate, who refer callers to EMPLEO partners for assistance.

The restaurant group also has agreed to compliance with the FLSA by immediately implementing a proper time-keeping system that incorporates the correct overtime wage rate.

"The results of this investigation demonstrate the Labor Department's commitment to ensuring that all workers receive the pay to which they are legally entitled as well as EMPLEO's impact on the communities it serves," said Patricia Davidson, acting administrator for the division's Western Regional Office. "In this case, one worker's voice helped 65 other low-wage employees receive full pay for the overtime hours they 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 hourly rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.

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 District Office at 213-894-6375. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/