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Korean Restaurant Allegedly Violated Wage Laws Resulting in Verdicts Against It

All employers conducting business in the United States need to be sure to abide by both state and federal labor laws. Unfortunately, many businesses choose to ignore the law, especially when their employees are immigrants without American citizenship. Immigrants are often less likely to speak out against injustice for fear they’ll get deported, and they’re less likely to be aware of their rights as employees under American labor law.

Regardless of their citizen status, all employees working in the United States are protected by the same labor laws. These laws govern things like minimum wage and overtime to make sure employees are fairly compensated for all the time they spend performing work.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit, Kum Gang San allegedly violated both state and federal labor law. According to the complaint, the 24-hour Korean restaurant failed to pay its workers minimum wage and refused to pay them overtime when they worked more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week.

When the restaurant was busy, the employees allegedly worked 16-hour shifts without overtime compensation or even minimum wage. When work was slow at the restaurant, the complaint alleges employees were made to perform tasks like shoveling the owner’s driveway and helping his son move to a new apartment. The final straw came when the owner, Ji Sung Yoo, required employees to pick cabbage on a farm outside the city on their day off. Workers who refused to do so were allegedly suspended and taken off the schedule at the restaurant. At this point, the employees decided they had had enough and filed the wage and hour lawsuit.

Federal labor law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who file or participate in lawsuits against their employer, but Yoo allegedly ignored that law as well. Eutemio Morales, one of the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, worked as a busser in the restaurant until 2014. Morales said that, of the 250 employees of the restaurant, almost 30 wanted to join the class action, but Yoo allegedly threatened to fire them if they did.

The class of plaintiffs achieved a victory when a federal magistrate judge ruled in their favor. The court found Yoo and two restaurant managers guilty of denying $2.67 million in wages to 11 employees. Chul Park, one of the plaintiffs, said through an interpreter that he saw the ruling “as a victory because this lawsuit, yes, was about getting the money we were owed, but it was also about changing conditions. … Even though I am no longer working here, I know that this is going to impact the workers who are here now.”

Unfortunately, Park may be disappointed in his hope for change. Yoo continues to argue against the ruling, and this is not the first time according to news reports that he has been found guilty of taking advantage of his employees. Claims which Yoo denies and continues to assert he did nothing wrong. As far back as 2005, the restaurant was found guilty of shortchanging its employees and failing to keep proper records of all time worked and wages owed and paid to the employees. In 2010, the restaurant was found guilty of violating child labor laws and fined $4,000. Another investigation that finished in 2010 resulted in the state ordering the company to pay $1.95 million in unpaid wages to 66 employees. The company still has not paid up and Kenneth Kimerling, who represented the plaintiffs, is skeptical that Yoo will pay the latest court-ordered damages.

The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Bollingbrook and Jolet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Morton Grove and Schaumburg overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.