Houlihan's Owner Will Pay $5 Million In Wage Theft Settlement

The owner of 15 Houlihan's restaurants in New York and New Jersey will pay $5 million in missing wages and damages to over 1,000 employees who alleged that they were never paid for overtime while working at the chain. NorthJersey.com reports that Arnold Runestad — who owns A.C.E. Restaurant Group in Saddle Brook and A.C.E Restaurant Group of New York LLC — was accused by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015 for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Runestad has reportedly agreed to the settlement with the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, but according to News12 New Jersey, the U.S. District Court still needs to approve the deal.

The companies were also being sued for allegedly violating minimum wage requirements by including non-tipped employees in restaurant tip pools and deducting money from workers' paychecks for shift meals, even though they claim to have already paid for the food up front.

"The Wage and Hour Division works to ensure that employees receive the wages they have rightfully earned, and that employers who fail to comply with the law do not gain an unfair competitive advantage over those who do," Mark Watson Jr., the division's Northeast regional administrator, said in a release. No word on how much money each employee will receive.

The Daily Meal has reached out to Houlihan's for comment.

Wage theft is a serious matter, but you'll never guess why these restaurants were sued.