In these economically turbulent times, maintaining a job and a steady flow of income is tantamount to survival. Unemployment figures in the U.S. have improved in recent years, but the overall concerns have not diminished; many people are still without work. Consumed by debt, these people are in desperate need of jobs. Sadly, in many parts of America, there are none to be had.
When people do manage to secure a job, their willingness to work hard is usually significant. But business relationships between an employee and his employer involve a considerable amount of power. The threat of unemployment creates a great deal of leverage on the part of an employer. While most employers abide by applicable labor laws, not all are so forthright in their businesses. Some deny overtime pay, while others force their workers to commit fraudulent acts to save the business money. In nearly every one of these situations, the rights of the workers are being violated. Under the law, benefits, such as workers’ compensation, are not given as a matter of the employer’s discretion. They are mandatory.
In March of 2015, a federal court judge ruled that the owners of the Kan Sung Gang restaurant in Flushing, New York were guilty of committing wage theft and other serious labor violations. According to the Times Ledger, 11 former employees joined the lawsuit, which yielded a $2.67 million damage award.
The employees, including eight waiters, two bussers and one kitchen worker, worked at the restaurant at various times between 1997 and 2012. According to the lawsuit filed by Attorney Jose Perez, the eleven employees were working below minimum wage, were not paid overtime and were asked to conduct non-work related tasks without compensation. Five workers were also allegedly forced to create fraudulent time cards of less than 40 hours a week for the restaurant’s hourly employees.
The workers were also forced to take on jobs for the owner outside of the restaurant, including working for Yoo’s Assi Plaza and JanChi JanChi restaurants and picking cabbages at a farm at the restaurant’s direction.
The judge in the case ordered that the damage award be split according to what was owed to each of the plaintiffs.