Oregon restaurants illegally withheld worker tips and even let managers take some, DOL says

An Oregon restaurant chain has withheld tips from workers and even allowed managers to take a portion, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has said.

KKOKI Korean BBQ also only paid overtime to staff when they worked at least 86 hours per pay period and did not keep accurate employee records, the DOL said in a press release on Monday.

The DOL said it recovered nearly $170,000 for 118 workers at KKOKI’s three branches in Portland, Eugene and Salem.

Millions of restaurant workers quit their jobs during the pandemic due to low wages, lack of benefits and poor working conditions.

The DOL has warned that such violations could worsen companies’ labor shortages.

The wage and hour division recovered $34.7 million in back wages for more than 29,000 employees across the United States in 2021, the DOL said.

“Restaurant industry workers are paid some of the lowest wages in the country, but many are putting themselves at risk throughout the pandemic to serve customers and help employers keep their businesses open,” Aguilar added. .

The DOL told Insider that KKOKI requires servers to tip 30% of their tips to back-of-the-house staff and that the Salem site does not give all tips collected in the tip pool to all employees. At the Eugene site, managers were also included in the staff tip pool, the DOL said.

Employers are not allowed to withhold tips from staff “under any circumstances”, states the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). And managers and supervisors are only allowed to keep tips they receive directly from customers for services they provide directly and “only,” as per the law.

Workers should also receive an overtime bonus for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, under the FLSA.

The DOL said it recovered $84,864 in back wages for staff and the same amount in damages. It also fined the restaurant group $30,199 due to “the deliberate nature of the employer’s violations,” he said.

KKOKI did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, which was made outside of normal working hours.

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