L.A. restaurant to pay $145,000 in back wages

Employees who worked overtime to serve the crowds at Little Tokyo's Daikokuya ramen restaurant — which attracts long lines of young, late-night diners — weren't properly paid for their extra hours, according to a government agency.

Los Angeles-based Bishamon Group Restaurants, which owns Daikokuya, has agreed to pay $145,000 in back wages to 66 employees, the U.S. Labor Department said.

The agency's wage and hour division found violations not only at the Little Tokyo location but also at six of the company's other restaurants in Monterey Park, Covina, Arcadia, Costa Mesa and downtown Los Angeles. Investigators said that dishwashers, prep cooks and cooks who worked overtime weren't paid the mandated time-and-a-half wages.

Most of the affected employees speak Spanish; the rest Japanese, according to the agency.

A study released this year by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers of Los Angeles said that 82% of local restaurant workers earn less than a living wage and many aren't given sick days or health insurance.

Last week, a pair of restaurant workers sued Shin BBQ, a Korean restaurant in Hollywood, alleging they were denied overtime pay and mandatory meal and rest breaks. Owner Simon Shin and investors such as actor Gerard Butler and producer Mark Ronson were named in the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"Our law protects workers regardless of their immigration status," said Kimchi Bui, district director for the wage and hour division's Los Angeles branch. "But these violations are very common. Our hope is to make sure there's a fair playing field out there."


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