Investigation recovers $97,000 in back wages from an Oahu Filipino restaurant chain

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FILE – In this May 7, 2020, file photo, the entrance to the Labor Department is seen near the Capitol in Washington. Unemployment fraud in the U.S. has reached dramatic levels during the pandemic: more than $63 billion has been paid out improperly through fraud or errors since March 2020. Criminals are seizing on the opportunity created by the pandemic and are making false claims using stolen information. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (LWHD) recently investigated GU Industrial & Business Corp. — which operated six Golden Coin locations, in Hawai’i and recovered $97,000 in unpaid overtime wages for 137 restaurant workers because the company failed to pay for missed or partial meal breaks.

“Golden Coin deducted meal breaks automatically without affirming whether the employee was actually relieved from duty for a sufficient length of time or in other instances whether the meal breaks were actually taken,” LWHD District Director Terence Trotter of Honolulu, Hawaii said. “This case should remind all employers to review their pay practices to ensure they are complying with the law and avoiding costly consequences if they do not.”

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The Department of LWHD said the GU Industrial & Business Corp. set its payroll system to deduct meal break time from pay routinely without fully considering whether the breaks were long enough for their purpose or, in some instances, whether staff actually took the breaks.

According to LWHD, as a result of their improper timekeeping policies, the department determined the employer failed to count and pay for all the hours employees worked, including those workweeks when they worked more than 40 hours, which led to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act‘s overtime provision.

The GU Industrial & Business Corp was also charged $23,240 in penalties for the reckless nature of its violations.

LWHD said GU Industrial & Business Corp. has operated Gold Coin restaurants and bakeshops offering Filipino specialties and other food products since 1985. The locations on Oahu include Waipahu, Ewa Beach, Honolulu, Kalihi, Wahiawa and Wailuku.

LWHD said in the last five years, it has conducted more than 2,650 investigations in the drinking and eating establishments industry in the Western Region, recovering $24 million in back wages for more than 15,300 employees.

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Meanwhile, the divison’s Honolulu District office conducted 228 of these investigation, finding violations in 219 cases and recovering more than $1.4 million in back wages for almost 1,700 employees.

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