While Southern California Sushi chefs worked up to 90 hours a week painstakingly assembling intricately crafted Godzilla rolls, sashimi assortments and other delicacies at various restaurants, the U.S. Department of Labor found their employer was cheating the chefs and other workers out of overtime pay, shaving hours off timecards and docking their pay routinely for 10-minute breaks.
In addition to sushi chefs, servers and kitchen staff will also collect back wages as part of the settlement. Some of the sushi chefs reported having worked more than 90 hours per week without overtime.
Gatten Sushi, USA, Inc. and GTN Inc., based in Cerritos, have agreed to pay $232,293 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages totaling $464,586 to 369 employees following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. The investigation uncovered widespread violations of the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employer has also paid $156,640 in civil penalties as a result.
“Unfortunately, the wage, overtime and record-keeping violations found at this employer’s establishments are all too common in the restaurant industry,” said Ruben Rosalez, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in San Francisco. “This employer’s failure to pay legally earned wages hurts the workers, their families and restaurant owners who play by the rules. This investigation and its outcome should send a strong message to others who may be cheating workers.
“The Wage and Hour Division encourages workers who are not paid the wages they legally earned, or not paid for all the hours they worked, to contact us,” Rosalez said. “Complaints are kept confidential, and the name of the person who filed and the nature of the complaint also remain confidential.”
Gatten operates owns sushi restaurants under Gatten Sushi name in Los Angeles (now closed), Cerritos, West Covina, Rowland Heights (now closed), Monterey Park, Irvine, Fullerton (now closed), Granada Hills and Gardena. GTN Inc., a sister company, owns and operates Yushoken Ramen restaurants in Arcadia and Irvine. The sushi and ramen restaurants were both part of the Labor Department investigation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act, requires that covered, nonexempt workers be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus one and one-half times their regular wages for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who exercise their rights under the law.