CAUTIONARY TALES EPISODE 24 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Unpaid Wages and Attempt to Evade Consequences Result in Seizure of Owners’ Assets

Continuing to target restaurants and other industries under its Wage Theft Is a Crime program, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has taken action against the Mango Gardens restaurant chain. In 2015 following a referral from Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the DLSE and Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (ACDA) began investigating Mango Gardens, with restaurants in Fremont, San Jose, and San Mateo.

The investigation found that the restaurants had paid 56 workers in cash, deducting 15 percent of the amount paid under the guise of tax payments, while the employees worked more than 10 hours a day without receiving minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, or split shift premiums.

A DLSE hearing officer found the owners and operators personally liable for citations amounting to $2,115,187 for their responsibility in these violations. This amount includes all the unpaid wages and one hour of extra pay for each day with missed meal breaks and another hour for each day with missed rest breaks.  It also doubles the unpaid minimum wage as “liquidated damages”  and adds $365,541 in interest (10 percent/year from the dates the wages were due). Also included are waiting time penalties of full wages for up to 30 days after the employees left the company.

The hearing officers also found that when the owners got wind that some of their workers were planning to file claims, they engaged in major corporate shenanigans – dissolving existing corporations, creating new ones, and listing different people as management.

The ACDA has thus seized $1.7 million in assets from the owners and operators and is liquidating those to pay the workers, who will receive from $2,603 to $150,523 each.

If you are in the restaurant industry – or any other industry – and are not providing proper wages and breaks, it behooves you to clean up any such employment irregularities. It is advisable to obtain attorney assistance to ensure you know everything that is required and can transition into correct practices as smoothly as possible.

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For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

January 16, 2019