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Investigation recovers $97K in back wages for 137 restaurant workers whose employer improperly failed to pay for missed or partial ‘meal breaks’

HONOLULU – Some restaurant industry employers disregard federal wage and hours requirements recklessly making it harder for vulnerable, low-wage workers to earn a living and for law-abiding employers to compete.

A recent U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation found GU Industrial & Business Corp. – operators of six Golden Coin locations in Hawaii – 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. 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 investigation led to the recovery of $97,503 in unpaid overtime wages for 137 workers. The division also assessed Golden Coin $23,240 in penalties for the reckless nature of its violations.

“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. That is illegal under federal law,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu, Hawaii. “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.”

GU Industrial & Business Corp. has operated Golden Coin restaurants and bake shops offering Filipino specialties and other food products since 1985. Based in Waipahu – home to the company’s headquarters, a banquet facility, and meat and poultry processing and bakery facilities – GU Industrial & Business Corp operates Golden Coin locations in Ewa Beach, Honolulu, Kalihi, Wahiawa and Wailuku. 

In the last five years, the Wage and Hour Division 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. The division’s Honolulu District office conducted 228 of these investigations, finding violations in 219 cases and recovering more than $1.4 million in back wages for almost 1,700 employees.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

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