The Department of Labor retrieved $134,000 in gratuities, unpaid overtime, and compensation for employees after an investigation revealed that a restaurant proprietor in Hawaii had underpaid their staff.

Employer: L&L Hawaiian Barbecue on Maui, operated by Maui L&L Food Inc. at 270 Dairy Road, Kahului, HI 96732

Investigation Findings: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation and discovered that Hui Bing Zhang, the owner of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Zhang had been illegally withholding a portion of employees’ tips and underpaying their earned overtime wages. This was done by recording the deficient cash payments separately and outside of the normal payroll process.

Back Wages Recovered: As a result of the investigation, $58,600 in unpaid overtime wages and $8,791 in withheld tips were recovered for 21 employees. In addition, $67,391 in damages were awarded to the employees, and the employer was fined $5,685 in civil money penalties.

Quote: “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to combating wage theft in all industries, including the restaurant industry,” stated Terence Trotter, District Director of the Wage and Hour Division in Honolulu. “This employer knowingly violated the law by depriving workers of their rightful overtime wages and keeping a portion of their hard-earned tips.”

Context: Workers can use the division’s Workers Owed Wages search tool to check if they are owed back wages that have been collected by the division. Both employers and workers can seek assistance from the Wage and Hour Division by calling their toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE. To learn more about the division and the protections provided by the FLSA for restaurant workers, visit their website. Employers and workers can also use the department’s Timesheet App, available for free in English and Spanish, to ensure accurate recording of hours worked and pay received.  

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