Judgment for Over $825,000 in Back Wages and Penalties Against Japanese Restaurants as a Result of Wage and Hour Violations

 
Friday, March 2, 2012
 

A chain of five Japanese restaurants in Suffolk and Nassau counties and president Wen Chun Su, also known as Walter Su, have agreed to pay a total of $764,796 in back wages, liquidated damages and interest to 161 employees, according to the terms of a consent judgment that resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The suit resulted from an investigation by the Long Island District Office of the department's Wage and Hour Division which found that, since 2008, Su and the following restaurants had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions: Ta-Yeh Restaurant Inc. doing business as Tai Show Sushi in Massapequa, DMK Corp. doing business as Tai Show Hibachi in Massapequa, D&M Japanese Restaurant Inc. doing business as Tai Show East in Oakdale, Su's Inc. doing business as Tai Show West in Levittown and Ta-Ming Ltd. doing business as Tai Show North in East Setauket.

Among the violations were an illegal arrangement in which tipped and nontipped employees shared tips; not paying workers the required minimum wage and overtime rates; and not keeping and maintaining adequate and accurate records of employees, their work hours and their total straight time earnings for each workweek. Additionally, some employees were paid flat monthly salaries, without regard to hours worked, that did not meet the FLSA's minimum wage or overtime requirements. Investigators used extensive surveillance coupled with forensic accounting to prove that employees were being paid "off the books," and to establish the number of hours actually worked by employees both on and off the books.

According to the judgment, the defendants will pay $62,622 in civil money penalties plus interest to the department for the violations, and also will inform employees orally and in writing – in English and any other language spoken by the employees – of their rights under the FLSA, including minimum wage and overtime pay as well as protection against employer retaliation for engaging in protected activities.

The FLSA requires that covered nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In accordance with the FLSA, an employer of a tipped employee is required to pay no less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages provided that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages do not equal the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Employers are also required to provide employees notice of the FLSA tip credit provisions and to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for the back wages owed and liquidated damages.

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