&amp;lt;!–:en–&amp;gt;CA RESTAURANT MUST PAY $400K FOR FORCING WAITERS TO RETURN PAYCHECKS &amp;amp; SUBSIST ON TIPS&amp;lt;!–:–&amp;gt;March 24, 2012
A court ordered a Chinese restaurant in Sunnyvale, CA., to pay $404,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages after a Labor Department investigation revealed that the restaurant forced workers to return their paychecks and subsist only on their tips, the Labor Department announced Mar. 15 (Solis v. United Buffet Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 11-4194, default judgment entered 2/29/12).
Judge Ronald M. Whyte of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered United Buffet Inc., which does business as the Crazy Buffet restaurant, and its manager, Zhou Ni, to pay 32 employees a total of $201,950 in back pay and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The judge Feb. 29 approved DOL’s request for a default judgment after the defendants refused to pay $44,570 in unpaid minimum wages and $157,380 in overtime compensation that resulted from violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions, DOL said.
According to the Labor Department, United Buffet issued paychecks to restaurant employees but then required the waiters to return their wages, allowing them to keep only their tips.
The employer also did not pay for hours they worked exceeding 40 in a week, even though employees’ worked an average of 60 to 72 hours per week, DOL said. In addition, the employer falsified employees’ time and pay records, DOL said.
The judge also granted an injunction barring United Buffet from committing future FLSA violations and an injunction forbidding it to continue to withhold unpaid compensation. The employer did not appear at the court proceedings. 03.24.2012