Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
2 Los Angeles-area restaurants ordered to pay more than $344,500 in back wages, damages following US Department of Labor investigation
WEST COVINA, Calif. -- The U. S. Department of Labor has obtained a judgment from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordering China Wok Express in Whittier and Golden Wok Fried Chicken in Los Angeles to pay $172,264 to 11 employees in unpaid minimum wage and overtime wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The judgment also orders the two restaurants and their owner, Richard Huot, to pay an additional $172,264 in liquidated damages to the workers.
“We have put a stop to this employer’s repeated and willful attempts to cheat workers out of their hard-earned wages with this successful litigation,” said Ruben Rosalez, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Western Region. “The employer’s disregard of the department’s findings in this case has resulted in a judgment that not only makes vulnerable workers whole, but sends a clear message to all employers in the restaurant industry. The industry employs some of our country’s lowest paid workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation. We will continue our effort to promote awareness and compliance in this industry.”
The U.S. District Court also entered an injunction enjoining and restraining Huot from withholding all unpaid compensation and from violating the FLSA in the future. The department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Los Angeles litigated this case.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division in West Covina and Los Angeles found that the two restaurants paid the workers on a salary basis without regard to the required minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA. Several of the affected workers, including cooks and cashiers at both locations, worked between 67 to 69 hours per week on average, and often from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., six days a week.
Additional violations included failure to maintain accurate and complete records of hours worked and wages paid to the employees. Investigators established that the employer provided falsified records in an attempt to hide real hours worked and wages paid. Investigators also determined that after the Wage and Hour Division informed the employer of the violations found, he continued to disregard the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are generally liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, which are paid directly to the affected employees.
For more information about the FLSA or other federal labor laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, call the division’s West Covina office at 626-966-0478 or its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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