Hawaii restaurant chain asked servers to share tips with managers

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Workers at a Hawaiian restaurant group owed thousands of dollars after a federal investigation found the group required servers to split tips with managers.

The US Department of Labor investigation recovered $117,710 in back wages and damages for 70 workers at DK Restaurant Group, which operates Sansei seafood restaurants and sushi bars in Kapalua, Kihei and Waikoloa , and DK Steak House in Honolulu.

The DOL said it was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

DK Restaurant Group was also fined $8,580 in penalties for the violation.

After the restaurant group slashed its managers’ salaries by at least 25% when it reopened after the pandemic, the DOL says operators tried to make up for the cut by taking tips from workers.

“Tipping customers to restaurant staff for good service is the private property of tip pool workers, such as servers, bartenders and other front-line workers,” said Terence Trotter, district manager of the division of wages and hours, in a press release.

“Any attempt by management to misuse any portion of these tips violates workers’ wage rights to be tipped,” he said.

The investigation began in September 2018 and ended in September 2021, according to the Labor Department.

They say they cannot disclose why investigations are triggered, but “many are initiated by complaints”.

Trotter said a number of businesses in a certain geographic area will be scrutinized, especially in low-wage industries.

“The Department targets low-wage industries, for example, due to high rates of violations or flagrant violations, employment of vulnerable workers, or rapid changes in an industry such as growth or decline,” said Trotter.

If an employee believes they still have back pay due as a result of the investigation, they recommend contacting the Wage and Hour Division at (808) 541-1361.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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