Thoughts

Tremendous Win for Underpaid Workers

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RESTAURANT FINED OVER 5 MILLION DOLLARS FOR BACK WAGES.

In 2018, a restaurant in Daly City, California ran by the Japanese, received a heavy blow when
they were issued a fine of over five million dollars. Maybe they deserved it; all of their
employees must have thought so. They had been owing employees money, which should have
been paid as wages as months rolled by.

The employees kept working without sufficient payment, under harsh conditions—over 50 hours
every week—until their contracts were unduly terminated, leaving them with back wages yet to
be accounted for. It is a good thing the law intervened says an unpaid wages lawyer, and issued
the restaurant the fine for maltreating their employees in such a manner.

After persuasion from the law, the restaurant finally saw it fit to pay the workers what they
owed—the workers who had to learn to move on with their lives, years after they had to leave
the restaurant. As reported by the state Labor Commissioner on Wednesday, each of the former
workers began receiving checks as settlements, to serve as compensation for all the paychecks
the restaurant had neglected paying them—The average worker finally getting about $14,217.
In a statement by Lilia Garcia, from the Labor Commissioner’s office, it was said that the
workers had waited for quite a long time before they could finally acquire their hard-earned
wages. They must have been ecstatic when they finally received their overdue payments because
many of them must have forgotten about it. It took years of waiting and years of wondering
when.

Lilia Garcia also reported that 133 workers had been owed wages—overtime and split shift
premiums. This restaurant is Kome Japanese Seafood and Buffet. Perhaps their fine wouldn’t
have been so heavy if they had not closed without notice back in 2019. Their abrupt departure
from business had sparked the wrath of the law, causing extra penalties to befall them.
Allegedly, they had failed to pay minimum wages—overtime and for split shifts. They also
neglected to pay the employees for extra work done, and so the settlement checks recovered by
an unpaid wage lawyer had to cover all of this. The alleged violations against human rights, as
regards employment and labor, could not possibly have passed without apprehension, for it was
all too glaring.

After investigations were carried out, it was found that amongst the 133 employees were 69
cooks, several sushi chefs as well as dishwashers, who labored for over 55 long hours every
week, even though they were paid a constant salary that did not account for the work they did
overtime.

In 2019, the Labor Commissioner’s Office which is also called the Department of Industrial
Relations' Division of Labor Standards Enforcement amended its assessment. Initially, it was
recorded at $5.16 million but is adjusted to the required payment, which is $754,950 as a penalty,
and $3,575,433 for the wages left unpaid. On Wednesday, they announced that the total
settlement was worth about $2.6 million—This includes a secondary payment of $55,000 which
serves as a penalty for their misconduct.

Each of the workers, all 133 of them, received their rightful share of the settlement. Some of
them got more than others, for the values of the checks ranged from as little as $20 to large as
$47,253. This means the workers received their compensations with respect to their position in
the restaurant. Positions which varied from Chefs to Servers, and even down to the cleaners.
Each individual received a check according to the labor and sweat they expended for the
Restaurant’s profit. They worked like animals, as though tireless. So, maybe they did not get
what they deserved after all—maybe they deserved more. Maybe they deserved to have been
compensated for waiting for such a long time as well.

Chiu Ping Tam, a server who worked in the Kome Japanese seafood and Buffet, spoke in a news
and he said he was treated unjustly too many times, but the anger that built up in him helped him
to triumph over his fears. Because of that, he joined the organizing efforts, and he learned that
the best way for the employees to gain protection is only when they stand together. His statement
was taken and released by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and the
Chinese Progressive Association—they are also the two organizations that helped to provide an
employment attorney to give aid to the unpaid workers. A Unpaid Wages Lawyer is a more
specific version of an employment lawyer.

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