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Michelin-Starred Sushi Temple Urasawa in Hot Water With Another Lawsuit

Two Michelin stars can’t keep someone from allegedely threatening their employees

Chef at Urasawa, Beverly Hills
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

A strongly-worded new lawsuit has Hiroyuki Urasawa in some hot water, according to Courthouse News. The litigation, filed September 26, alleges unpaid overtime wages and unfair treatment of one Tom Nonaka, a former sous chef at the restaurant. What’s more, chef Urasawa may have even threatened to kill Nonaka over a separate lawsuit dating back to 2013.

It’s a tangled web, but here’s what is alleged from the lawsuit:

Back in 2013, Urasawa was forced to pay nearly $70,000 in penalties and unpaid wages in a judgment handed down from the California Department of Industrial Relations. Nonaka says that restaurant ownership forced him to help pay for those costs, threatening to kill him if he did not comply.

What’s more, Nonaka says that the wage theft issues remained following the 2013 judgement, with the worker being denied breaks and overtime pay. That’s of course far from the first time Urasawa has been charged with such practices, despite being one of the most expensive and sought-after upscale dining experiences anywhere in Los Angeles (or the country, for that matter).

This is also not the first time that issues of wage theft and labor abuse have cropped up in Los Angeles. A series of KCRW reports from this summer did much to shine light on that blight, even calling out the 20 restaurants who ow more back wages than any other in the county.