Feds Recover $290K for Maui Food Truck Workers

Their employer intentionally denied them their full wages.

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MAUI – A federal investigation has recovered $290,314 in rightfully earned wages and damages owed to 95 workers after the pay practices of their employer – the operator of five Maui food truck-restaurants – willfully denied them their full wages.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations by a single enterprise consisting of five corporations – Da Nani Pirates LLC, Da Nani Pirates Lahaina LLC, Maui Poke LLC, Maui Burgers LLC and Aloha Thai Fusion LLC – that operate the food truck/restaurant establishments.

The division determined the enterprise’s violations included requiring workers to give a portion of their tips to management, paying them straight-time rates for hours over 40 in a workweek and failing to combine all hours they worked at multiple locations. These actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The investigation led to the recovery of $290,314 for the affected workers – $145,157 in unpaid wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. In addition, the department assessed a $20,000 civil money penalty due to the reckless nature of the employer’s violations.

“Wages earned should be wages paid, and when an employee works overtime, they should be paid overtime, as required,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu. “This case demonstrates that violating federal labor laws has consequences. When employers fail to abide by the rules, they are held legally accountable.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Honolulu saw its unemployment rate drop from 5.3 to 3.2 percent from March 2021 to March 2022, making it more difficult for employers to recruit and retain workers who can make choices about the employers for whom they work.

“Employers who shortchange their workers will find it more difficult to retain and recruit the people to do the work needed to operate their businesses,” Trotter explained. “Those who treat their employees with dignity and respect for their hard work will have the competitive advantage.”

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