Just this month, another news story broke about how restaurants are trying to skirt wage and employment laws. A popular Los Angeles restaurant has been fined $2.1 million for a variety of labor violations.
The California Labor Commission’s investigators performed an audit of the Genwa Korean BBQ restaurant’s books and practices after complaints were filed by employees. Among their findings:
- Servers were required to attend staff meetings without pay — even on their days off.
- Half of the employees were never given itemized wage statements (effectively preventing them from being able to see they were being cheated).
- Overtime was not paid properly or at all to about half the employees.
- Over half of the employees were denied minimum wages.
- None of the employees were given their meal breaks or rest breaks at work — although they are legally required to have them.
- Full-time staff members were forced to clock out as often as three times a day over the course of 11 hours.
This is just another in a long line of wage and employment abuses in the restaurant industry that have attracted attention over the last few years. Servers and other restaurant workers are particularly vulnerable to wage theft and other employment abuses because they are often poorly educated, desperate for work and unaware of their rights.
Several large restaurant chains, from TGI Friday’s to McDonald’s, have been caught in deceptive practices that cheated employees. In some cases, employers take advantage of the confusion surrounding tipped employees and their rights to cheat people out of their due — and the servers and others aren’t even aware that it’s illegal.
If you think that you’re a victim of wage theft, find out more about your rights and legal options. There are ways to fight back.