Hawaii restaurant chain required servers to share tips with managers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Workers of a Hawaii restaurant group were owed thousands of dollars after a federal investigation revealed the group was requiring servers to share their tips with managers.

The US Department of Labor investigation recovered $117,710 in back wages and liquidated damages for 70 workers of DK Restaurant Group, operator of Sansei Seafood Restaurants and Sushi Bars in Kapalua, Kihei and Waikoloa, and DK Steak House in Honolulu.

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

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

After the restaurant group reduced its managers’ salaries by at least 25% when reopening after the pandemic, the DOL says that operators attempted to make up the reduction by taking tips from workers.

“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,” said Terence Trotter, Wage and Hour Division District Director, in a press release.

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

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

They say they can’t disclose why investigations are prompted, but that “many are initiated by complaints.”

Trotter said that a number of businesses in a certain geographic area will be examined, specifically in low-wage industries.

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

If an employee believes that they are still owed back wages as a result of the investigation, he recommends contacting the Wage and Hour Division at (808) 541-1361.

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