Sushi Rock restaurants failed to ensure tipped employees made at least minimum wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division. Now the chain must pay at least $100,000 in back pay, to be split among 54 employees.
It could owe more—a federal court is still in the process of calculating the final amount. The case was complicated by the fact that sushi chefs derive at least part of their income from customer tips, making it harder to figure how much—or how little—the Sushi Rock chefs really earned.
A DOL investigation of the chain’s three locations in Beachwood, Cleveland and Columbus revealed the restaurant improperly labeled sushi chefs as exempt professional employees ineligible for minimum wage and overtime pay.
Note: Employers cannot assume that tipped employees make minimum wage. If pay plus tips add up to less than the minimum wage, employers must make up the shortfall.