HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has recovered $368,992 in back wages and damages for 16 employees of an Oahu restaurant — owned by one of Japan’s largest brewing and distilling companies — whose operators denied overtime wages to salaried cooks and chefs, some of whom worked up to 70 hours per week.Investigators determined Restaurant Suntory wrongly excluded these salaried employees from overtime eligibility and, by doing so, did not pay them legally required overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The restaurant also failed to keep accurate wage records.The division recovered $184,496 in unpaid overtime and an equal amount in liquidated damages for the affected employees, some of whom the employer owed as much as $46,000 in back pay. In addition, the department assessed Suntory $12,105 in civil money penalties for its reckless disregard of the Fair Labor Standards Act.“The outcome of our investigation at Restaurant Suntory should serve to remind restaurant industry employers that they cannot simply ignore the rights of kitchen staff to overtime wages because these employees are paid on a fixed salary basis,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu. “Employers must pay workers who cook and prepare food for customers overtime rates for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.” “We strongly encourage restaurant industry employers to use the free resources we offer, including our compliance assistance toolkits to avoid costly violations like those found in this case,” Trotter added.Owned by Suntory Holdings, Restaurant Suntory opened in Waikiki in 1980 and is the sole remaining Restaurant Suntory in the U.S. Founded in 1899, Suntory Holdings is a global provider of premium spirits, beer and wine, brewed teas, bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, ready‐to‐drink coffee and energy drinks, and health and wellness products. Its product line includes American spirits Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark as well as Sauza Tequila and the popular non‐alcoholic beverage, Orangina. The company operates in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, and had a reported annual revenue of $20.4 billion in 2020.Workers can use the Wage and Hour Division’s Workers Owed Wages search tool to see if they are owed back wages collected by the division. Employers and workers can contact the division confidentially for help at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including the agency’s restaurant compliance assistance toolkit and an overview of FLSA protections for restaurant workers. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish. 

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