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NYC Ramen Restaurant Refused to Hire Non-Korean or Japanese Person, DOJ Says

Ichiba Ramen has settled with the Justice Department

Ichiba Ramen
Ichiba Ramen
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Ichiba Ramen in Union Square has settled with the Department of Justice over accusations that the restaurant unlawfully discriminated against a job applicant for not being Korean or Japanese.

The DOJ issued a statement this week saying that former chef of Ichiba refused to hire an applicant for a server position based on his national origin, particularly that he was not Korean or Japanese. (The statement did not say the applicant’s actual national origin.)

According to the DOJ, the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision “prohibits employers with four to 14 employees from discriminating against individuals because of their national origin.” Eater NY has reached out to the restaurant and the DOJ for further comment.

The settlement agreement says that Ichiba has agreed to pay civil penalties totaling to $2,000 to the U.S. Treasury, as well as $1,760 in back pay to the affected applicant. The restaurant will also be required to display posters outlining worker rights in all places where employee and potential applicant notices are posted. (The poster can be viewed here.) All employees involved in recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of new employees will be required to undergo webinar training on anti-discrimination laws.

Discriminatory hiring practices — and especially looks-based discrimination — runs rampant in the restaurant industry, sometimes influenced by gender and other times by race. Though a lot of restaurant staffing makeup happens via self-selection, discrimination still plays a role. Last November, the Restaurant Opportunities Center launched a new program aimed at reducing racial and gender bias in hiring practices for restaurants.