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LA’s Famous Phoenix Inn Family Ordered to Pay Over $126,000 in Back Wages

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The restaurants failed to keep proper time records and pay overtime to kitchen employees

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Chinese restaurant
Crowded kitchen, a narrow aisle, working chef.
hxdyl via Shutterstock

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found 14 Southern California restaurants in violation of federal labor laws last week. Those restaurants must now pay $125,142 in fines and back wages for failing to keep proper time records, and pay all overtime hours for kitchen employees.

WHD’s West Covina office made the announcement on January 4. According to the WHD, the restaurants operate under five different entities in Alhambra, Arcadia, Gardena, Garden Grove, Los Angeles, Monterey Park, Rowland Heights, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, and the City of Industry, though they are connected through the same family. The most famous of the group is Phoenix Inn in Chinatown, which has existed since 1965, along with a sister site from Alhambra that dates to 1997.

Some of the violators use some variation of the name Phoenix, but are not associated with the 54-year-old Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown. They are:

  • Phoenix Food Boutique Inc., with seven restaurants owned by Tommy Chang, May Chang, and Ming Chung
  • Phoenix Dessert Inc., with three restaurants owned by Tommy Chang and May Chang
  • 101 Phoenix Inc., with two restaurants owned by Tommy Chang, May Chang, and Ming Chung Ng
  • Phoenix Bistro Inc., with one restaurant owned by Choy Bay Chang
  • T&K Inc., with one restaurant, owned by Tommy Chang

NBC-LA first spotted this story. Last October, three Southern California Thai restaurants were fined $1 million for wage theft violations of 22 workers. Corporate chains also came under the labor law radar as well. Last June, the Cheesecake Factory was forced to pay 559 Southern California janitors $4.5 million in lost wages and fines.