Soju-soaked Korean restaurant and bar Sojuba is paying out $320,000 in back wages and damages to 59 current and former employees following a federal investigation into the business’s labor practices.
According to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Sojuba was found in violation of multiple labor laws including distribution of tips, minimum wage payments, and overtime pay. Boston.com first reported news of the investigation.
The federal examination revealed that some staff ineligible for the tip pool still collected tips, which meant other workers did not collect all of the tips that they earned. Investigators also found that the restaurant did not pay at least the minimum wage to front-of-house workers — which, in Massachusetts, is $6.75 an hour for tipped employees — for every hour worked. It also did not always pay proper overtime wages, nor did it keep accurate payroll records, according to the Department of Labor.
The federal investigation also uncovered that the restaurant was instructing workers what to say to investigators, in violation of anti-retaliation protections. Eater has reached out to Sojuba for comment on the investigation.
Due to the labor violations, Sojuba was ordered to pay $147,500 in back wages covering a period from August 17, 2019, to August 13, 2022, and $147,500 in damages to 59 current and former workers. The restaurant also paid $25,000 for the retaliation action and $40,000 in penalties to the Department of Labor for “willful wage violations.”
The gigantic, neon-lit restaurant and bar — which boasts the tagline “soju made me do it” — has been a fixture of Boylston Street in Fenway for over six years, known for selling pitchers of soju cocktails alongside a Korean food menu of dumplings, noodles, rice cakes, and more. It upgraded into its current, larger space at 1260 Boylston Street in 2020, taking over a former outpost of sports bar Tony C’s.