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Local Restaurant Chain Fined $314,000 for Stealing Tips, Wages

Federal officials say they have fined a Florida restaurant chain with six locations more than $314,500 for taking employee tips and wages.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that the Vietnamese chain Pho 79 “illegally diverted” federal overtime pay and tips for 65 of its employees.

The chain has locations in Davie, Sunrise, Coral Springs, Boynton Beach, Miami and Pinecrest, and lists different owners for each one, according to property records.

Jacky Truong, Pho 79′s cofounder, is listed as a registered agent for multiple locations.

The federal agency found that Pho 79:

-“Paid cooks, dishwashers and kitchen helpers a flat daily rate or weekly salary regardless of the number of hours they worked,” although employees exceeded 40 hours, which is a violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

-“Illegally diverted all gratuities to the restaurant – failing to give employees any of the tips,” another FLSA violation.

Photo courtesy: Pho 79/Facebook

-“Failed to maintain an accurate record of the number of hours employees worked,” which is required by law.

-Did not “keep a record of employees’ contact information.”

-Did not “display a FLSA minimum wage poster in each establishment.”

It is unclear how long Pho 79 must correct the violations.

In a Friday email, Eric Lucero, a U.S. Department of Labor spokesman, said the situations occurred between 2017 and 2019, and that Pho 79′s owner “agreed to future compliance.”

“Employers may not keep tips received by employees,” said Tony Pham, Wage and Hour’s division district director in Miami. “The Wage and Hour Division will continue working to ensure that workers receive all the wages they have legally earned, and that employers compete on a level playing field.”