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Tank Noodle Restaurant Ordered To Pay Staff $700,000 In Back Wages, Accused Of Other Labor Violations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday that it has recovered nearly $700,000 in back wages from Tank Noodle restaurant in Uptown.

The department said kitchen staff worked "countless hours" making authentic Vietnamese dishes such as Banh Mi and Pho at the restaurant, at 4953-55 N. Broadway at the intersection with Argyle Street, while often working for tips only.

The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division recovered nearly $697,295 in back wages for 60 employees, finding that Tank Noodle Inc. owed some workers more than $10,000 per person in back wages.

The department said it also found numerous violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage and overtime requirements, and inadequate recordkeeping of the hours employees worked.

The department notified Tank Noodle Inc. back on Oct. 14 that it was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the company signed an agreement that it would pay back wages it owed effective Dec. 7, according to a news release.

"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 the news release. "Failing to accurately record the hours employees work does not prevent a federal investigation, the discovery of violations and ultimately, back wage recovery. This case shows that employers that attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage by flouting the law will be held accountable."

Investigators found some servers were paid only on tips and got no direct wages despite the law requiring it, the release said. Tank Noodle also shorted servers when the employer pooled tips daily and divided them between all staff – including management, which is illegal, the release said.

The restaurant also violated overtime requirements in paying some workers flat amounts regardless of how long they worked, the release said.

Tank Noodle drew controversy over a separate issue back in January when photos surfaced of its owners traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend a rally supporting President Donald Trump on Jan. 6. noted that in a subsequent statement on Facebook, the owners denied participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol that day. As quoted by, the owners said they were "deeply shocked, saddened, and offended when an angry mob stormed the Capitol."

The Tank Noodle Facebook post as quoted by added: "The nation needs healing and we will do our part to do the work," the statement continues. "We ask the same of our fellow community members."

The Facebook page for Tank Noodle appeared to be down Wednesday afternoon.

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