After a year-long investigation, California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office cited three Southern California restaurants over $1 million for wage theft violations of 22 workers. The state found that restaurant owners required employees to work 10 hour shifts without a meal or rest break, and only paid employees an average of $5 per hour.
The Orange County Register first spotted this week’s ruling, which is the third major wage theft settlement for Southern California restaurants in 2018. In June, the Cheesecake Factory was ordered to pay 559 janitors over $4.5 million in lost wages and fines, and Hollywood’s Shrimp Lover paid $500,000 to employees this past February.
Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su ordered Sanamluang Cafe in North Hollywood to pay nine workers $708,457. She also required Arcadia’s Orchid Thai Cuisine to provide $307,133 to 11 employees, along with Baldwin Park’s Orchid Thai to shell out $50,056 to two former employees. The money includes compensation for minimum and overtime wages, damages, waiting time penalties and missed meal and rest periods. In addition, these restaurants must pay a total of $261,800 in civil penalties to the state.
The Thai Community Development Center and Bet Tzedek Legal Services represented the employees collectively. Sanamluang Cafe’s owners Surapong and Viriya Chinotaikul came under investigation in August 2017. Even after investigators addressed the violations, the owners still did not obey labor laws and were assessed additional penalties.
Both locations for Orchid Thai are owned by Chakri, Revedee, Chavin, Charlene and Chanica Veranunt. The employers took an extra step beyond the Sanamluang Cafe. After shifts ended, employees were required to clean up off the clock and without overtime.