A popular Thai restaurant in Pleasanton must pay back more than $172,000 to workers after a federal investigation unearthed violations in overtime law.
New Thai Bistro, located in a small shopping center at Valley Avenue and Santa Rita Road, was the focus of an investigation that analyzed the period from March 2016 until January 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD).
"Our goal is to pair compliance assistance with rigorous enforcement to ensure that employers follow the rules and that employees receive the pay they have legally earned," WHD district director Susana Blanco said in a statement Friday announcing the New Thai Bistro finding.
The agency enforces requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that cover overtime pay, as well as federal minimum wage, child labor and record keeping.
Investigators said the restaurant violated overtime requirements of federal law by paying workers "flat rates per day or per week, without regard to the number of hours they actually worked." Overtime payment at time-and-a-half of workers' regular wages when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek is required under the law but New Thai Bistro only paid their employees at straight-time rates, according to the agency.
Some servers worked four hours of weekly overtime while other kitchen staff including chefs worked up to 11 hours of overtime each week, the WHD said. The restaurant must pay 14 employees a combined total of $172,862, plus a civil penalty to WHD of $1,974 "due to the willful nature of the violations found."
The restaurant was open for business as usual Tuesday evening, but management could not be reached for comment.
New Thai Bistro has won the Pleasanton Weekly Readers' Choice award for Best Thai Restaurant each of the past three years, as voted upon by Weekly's readers.
The U.S. Department of Labor encourages employers to visit their website for tools and resources to help comply with federal law. For more information about the FLSA, visit www.dol.gov or call the WHD's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employees who think they may be owed back wages can visit www.dol.gov/whd.