A Los Angeles seafood restaurant must pay $519,706 after being cited for wage-theft violations by the California Labor Commissioner, the office said Monday.
A location of the restaurant The Shrimp Lover was charged with paying 25 servers less than minimum wage since 2014, and workers were not paid overtime or for meal and rest breaks. They were also asked to work off the clock, and the Labor Commissioner’s office said some were paid as little as $4 per hour.
The minimum wage in Los Angeles is $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more workers, and $10.50 per hour for companies with 25 or fewer workers. There is no sub-minimum wage in California.
The investigation found that Shrimp Lover, owned by Jaruwat Sonachai and Sineenart Klinmalai, from 2014 to 2016 paid a flat rate of $25 per shift. From July 2016 to January 2017, that flat rate increased to $30 per shift. Then in 2017, workers were paid the minimum wage of $10 at the time, but were required to work off the clock for 30 to 40 minutes per shift.
Shifts typically lasted seven hours and workers were not paid overtime when they worked two shifts up to 14 hours a day, the commissioner’s office said. The investigation was launched after receiving complaints from workers who reported the practices to the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Attempts to reach Sonachai and Klinmalai were not answered. There are several locations of a chain called The Shrimp Lover in the Los Angeles area and Sacramento using the same logo, but only the Hollywood Boulevard location was cited and it’s not clear if it is a franchised unit.
“Paying servers a daily rate below the minimum wage is a business model built on wage theft,” said Labor Commissioner Julie Su. “This case demonstrates that when workers speak up about abuse, we will investigate and employers who rely on worker exploitation will be held accountable.”
Sonachai and Klinmalai have been ordered to pay workers $471,756 for the lost wages, including $230,156 in waiting-time penalties and liquidated damages. The employer was also served with $47,950 in civil penalties for wage theft violations and for providing improper wage statements.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
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