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Back wages and liquidated damages recovered for workers

The Maui News

A federal investigation has recovered $117,710 in back wages and liquidated damages for 70 workers of a Hawaii restaurant group with eateries on Maui, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

D.K. Restaurant Group required servers to share their tips with managers, after the employer reduced managers’ salaries by at least 25 percent, the news release said. The group is the operator of Sansei Seafood Restaurants and Sushi Bars in Kapalua, Kihei and Waikoloa; and D.K. Steak House in Honolulu.

The restaurant operators attempted to make up for the reduction in managers’ salaries by drawing from tipped workers’ wages, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the group reduced the managers’ salaries when it reopened the restaurants after a temporary closure forced by the pandemic.

In addition to $58,855 in back wages plus an equal amount in damages, the department assessed D.K. Restaurant Group $8,580 in penalties for the willful nature of its violations, the news release said.

“Customers tips to restaurant staff for good service are the private property of those workers in the tip pool, such as servers, bartenders and other front-line workers. Any attempt by management to misuse a portion of these tips violates tipped workers’ wage rights,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu. “The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to protect workers’ right to keep all their earnings and prevent employers from gaining a competitive advantage by reducing their labor costs.”

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