UPTOWN — Tank Noodle has been forced to pay nearly $700,000 in back wages after making some of its employees work only for tips, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The popular Vietnamese restaurant at 4953 N. Broadway withheld wages and used illegal employment practices for 60 of its employees, a labor department investigation found. Some employees were owed more than $10,000 by the restaurant.
The labor department has recovered $697,295 in back wages for 60 employees, officials said in a statement Wednesday.
The investigation found some servers at the restaurant worked only for tips, a violation of federal work laws. Tank Noddle also shorted servers when the business pooled tips and divided the money among all staff, including management, another federal work violation.
Tank Noodle violated overtime laws and sometimes paid staff flat fees for a day’s work regardless of the number of hours worked, according to the labor department.
The investigation began in January 2020 and the probe covered allegations of misdeeds from January 2018 to January 2020, said Scott Allen, spokesperson for the Department of Labor.
The agency told restaurant owners Oct. 14 they had violated federal fair labor laws. Business owners signed an agreement Dec. 7 to pay the back wages.
The popular Asia of Argyle destination is already in hot water with customers after its owners attended a Jan. 6 rally in support of former President Donald Trump that ended in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
The Ly family, which owns Tank Noodle, posted photos from the rally, which were widely circulated on social media. Calls for boycotts quickly grew, and the restaurant’s management and staff received death threats, owners told The Today Show.
Tank Noodle management acknowledged owners attended the rally but left after it concluded and did not take part in the breach of the Capitol.
“We understand that some of our customers have strong feelings about what happened last Wednesday,” business management wrote on Facebook. “We share your feelings and respect your opinions. If you choose to take your business elsewhere, we are sorry to lose you and thank you for your business.”
Members of the Ly family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
“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,” Labor Department Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Gauza said in a statement. “This case shows that employers that attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage by flouting the law will be held accountable.”
In February 2020, Tank Noodle announced a second location would open in Irving Park. That location has yet to open.
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