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Thai Town Restaurant Fined $500K For Paying Employees Only $4 an Hour

Some employees received a mere $25 for a seven hour shift

The Shrimp Lover
The Shrimp Lover
Ako F. via Yelp
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

This week, California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office fined the owners of a Thai Town restaurant more than $500,000 for violating labor laws, after paying workers only $4 per hour. The employees at The Shrimp Lover on Hollywood Boulevard were paid well under minimum wage, were not paid overtime, and were forced to work off the clock, in addition to being denied rest or meal breaks.

First reported by Hollywood Patch, state regulators discovered these allegations had been taking place since 2014. The investigation found that from 2014 until 2017, 25 workers were paid a flat rate of $25 to $30 per shift. Things changed in January 2017, when workers were paid $10 an hour, but were required to work off the clock for 30 to 45 minutes per shift. Staff shifts typically lasted seven hours, and workers were not paid overtime when they worked two shifts in a row.

In a statement, California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su was told about the complaints from the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Shrimp Lover owners Jaruwat Sonachai and Sineenart Klinmalai, were ordered to pay their employees $471,756 for the violations, including underpaid minimum wage, overtime, meal, and rest breaks. The fines also included $230,156 in waiting time penalties and liquidated damages, and $47,950 in civil penalties for the violations and false wage statements.

According to the Commissioner’s office, when wage theft occurs, employees are entitled to the amount of underpaid wages plus interest. Shrimp Lover has locations in Hollywood, Redondo Beach, and Sacramento.