Los Angeles eating places Ocha Basic, Vim did not pay additional time: Feds

The owner of a chain of Thai food restaurants in Los Angeles is set to pay dozens of workers $1.65 million in back wages and damages after investigators found they were not paid for working overtime, the US Department of Labor announced Wednesday.

Prapai Boonyindee intentionally denied overtime pay to 83 workers across six Ocha Classic Restaurant and one Vim Restaurant location, and tried to hide it by creating “false records,” according to the labor department.

Boonyindee withheld pay to as many as 26 workers in one location near LA’s Koreatown. The workers will collectively receive $825,775 in back wages, the same amount in damages plus an additional $62,167 in civil penalties, the Labor Department said.

The case was ultimately settled by an administrative order between Boonyindee and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, an agency spokesperson said.

Wednesday’s Labor Department announcement is the latest case in recent months in which restaurant workers were owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages or tips.

The federal agency said it recovered more than $27 million in wages for over 22,000 food service workers in 2022.

Recent high profile wage-theft cases:

Krispy Kreme agrees to pay $1.2 million to hundreds of workers

In November, Krispy Kreme settled a wage violation case with the labor department by agreeing to pay $1.2 million to more than 500 workers across its 242 stores nationwide. Some workers were set to receive north of $10 million.

Krispy Kreme said it disagreed with the labor department’s findings that it paid workers overtime hours below the legal rate, but opted to settle the case it the “best interests of its business.”

read more: Krispy Kreme to pay $1.2 million settlement to 516 staffers over not issuing wage bonuses

North Carolina restaurant kept tips, ordered to pay $157,000 to staff

Jay’s Kitchen, an Asian fusion restaurant in Goldsboro, North Carolina, had to pay nearly $160,000 to its workers.

The restaurant kept a percentage of its employees’ tips, violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and losing its right to claim a tip credit, according to the Labor Department. It owed the workers the difference between their paid cash and the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which totaled to $157,287.

read more: North Carolina restaurant that kept workers’ tips ordered to pay $157,000, federal officials say

Philadelphia-area diner ran illegal tip pool, ordered to pay back $1.35 million

A judge ordered Empire Diner, a restaurant in a Philadelphia suburb, to pay $1.35 million to its workers after a years-long investigation by the labor department found that the restaurant used waiters’ tips to pay for its bussers’ wages.

The diner’s told owner USA TODAY the restaurant disputes the investigation’s findings and planned to appeal the judge’s order.

read more: A diner used servers’ tip money to pay its bussers’ wages, probe finds. Now it has to pay $1.35 million.

Texas BBQ chain’s supervisors kept workers tips; Restaurant repaid $230,000

A 2019 audit found that several Black’s Barbecue locations shared employee tips with the managerial staff, violating a federal rule change that made doing so illegal.

“We’re barbecue experts, we’re not payroll experts,” Kent Black, one of the restaurant owners, told the Austin-American Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network.. “We weren’t closely following that, and apparently our payroll company did not pick up on that.”

read more: A Texas BBQ king reallocated tips from servers to managers. The chain repaid over $230,000.

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY; Hogan Gore, Austin American Statesman

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