SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (11/19/14) – Employers who commit wage theft in this country are, unfortunately, large in number, particularly when it comes to low-wage immigrant employees. This particular demographic often do not know anything about employment laws, speak little to no English, and even if they know their employer is cheating them are afraid to speak up because of fear of losing their employment.
As per SFGATE, a division of the San Francisco Chronicle, 280 former and current employees of Yank Sing, a popular San Francisco two location dim sum restaurant, prevailed in their quest to receive back pay and for the restaurant to improve working conditions.
The California Division of Labor Standards (“CDLS”) investigated the workers’ claims and concluded that the reported labor violations were true. CDLS confirmed that many of Yank Sing’s policies towards employees were illegal, such as not paying overtime, tips being taken by managers, employees routinely working off the clock, and lack of shift breaks for the workers.
The Yank Sing group of employees, many of which did not speak fluent English, received assistance from the Asian Law Caucus and the Chinese Progressive Association in terms of understanding what their labor rights actually were and staging a confrontation with the owners about the illegal labor activity. Negotiations to the final settlement took approximately eighteen months.
The owners of Yank Sing, married couple Judy and Henry Chan, were very cooperative and decided to follow the law and met all the demands of the workers, plus extra. They replaced 75% of their managers and they hired Jonathan Glick to be their Director of Operations after meeting with employees in order to ensure that their policies towards workers stay within the law. They also agreed to completely fulfill all the back pay and labor violation issues at once time with the $4 million settlement.
Going forward, Yank Sing has completely revamped its human resources policies, and, in addition to meeting all the workers’ requests, now provides more to its employees than the bare minimum legal labor requirements.
Employees now receive a salary higher than the minimum wage, vacation days, all breaks required by law, and fully paid health insurance benefits. Yank Sing also instituted the use of timesheets in order to keep track of all hours worked so as to properly compensate workers for overtime.