A minimum wage and overtime lawsuit against Hibachi City Buffet was settled for $128,335. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California approved a judgment ordering the Palm City, California restaurant and owners to pay 44 employees $90,000 in back wages, in addition to $38,335 in penalties. The court also prohibited Hibachi City Buffet from retaliating or taking any adverse employment action against any worker who exercises or asserts their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Hibachi City Buffet violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA. They found the employees – cooks, dishwashers and servers – worked more than 60 hours per workweek on average, yet the employer paid a fixed salary, without regard to the number of hours employees worked. Minimum wage violations resulted when those salaries failed to cover all the hours employees worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Overtime violations occurred when workers exceeded 40 hours in a week, yet the employer still paid workers only their fixed salaries. Hibachi City Buffet also failed to keep time records showing how many hours employee worked, or how much they paid employees, as the law requires.
“Vulnerable restaurant employees are often reluctant to complain when their employer fails to pay them the wages they’ve earned,” said Danny Pasquil, district director for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in West Covina. “We urge all employees who are not paid legally to step forward. Cheating workers out of their hard-earned wages is illegal. As this consent judgment illustrates, we will continue to use every available tool, including asking the courts to step in, to ensure that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”