The owners of Tank Noodle were forced to pay nearly $700,000 to employees after a recent investigation alleged the popular Chicago restaurant forced servers to work for tips only and failed to pay overtime to several employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the North Side eatery was paid more than $697,000 in back wages to 60 employees, some of whom received up to $10,000.
“This investigation recovered a considerable amount of back wages for 60 employees in an industry whose essential workers are often among the lowest paid in our society,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Gauza in Chicago said in statement.
Investigators reported Tank Noodle Inc., a Vietnamese restaurant in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, employed some servers to work for tips only, refusing to pay them minimum wages, as required by law. The investigation also alleged the restaurant pooled tips each day and divided them evenly among all staff, "which illegally included management."
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According to the labor department, Tank Noodle also violated overtime requirements by paying flat rates per day, regardless of the number of hours worked, oftentimes failing to pay overtime for those employees.
The department said it first notified the restaurant of the violations on Oct. 14 and that Tank Noodle Inc. "signed an agreement to pay the back wages they owed" on Dec. 7. On March 3, those wages were paid, the department said.
Tank Noodle did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the investigation.
The restaurant had previously come under fire on social media earlier this year after several members of the family that owns Tank Noodle attended a rally outside the White House that preceded the chaos at the U.S. Capitol.
Thien Ly, the restaurant's general manager and son of the owners, said in a statement that his family members left the rally soon after it concluded and weren't involved "in the disgraceful actions that took place at the Capitol."
But the restaurant and its owners were quickly targeted on social media after photos surfaced showing the owners on an airplane heading to Washington, D.C., for the rally. Ly said his family went to D.C. to support the president, but "were never on Capitol grounds."
Ly said at the time that his family members, friends and staff were subjected to intimidation, harassment and death threats following the incident.