Owners of 'Shrimp Lover' Restaurant Fined, Ordered to Pay $471,000 in Wage Theft Case

March 3, 2018 |  

The owners of a popular chain restaurant were fined after they were found to have committed wage theft of employees at one of the outlets in Los Angeles. 

Shrimp Lover owners Jaruwat Sonachai and Sineenart Klinmalai have been ordered by the California Labor Commission, of the California Department of Industrial Relations, to pay workers $471,756 for underpaid minimum wage, overtime and meal and rest breaks, including $230,156 in waiting-time penalties and liquidated damages. The employer was also served with $47,950 in civil penalties for the wage theft violations and for providing improper wage statements. 

The investigation revealed that between July 2014 and July of 2016, workers were paid a flat rate of $25 per shift, and a flat rate of $30 per shift from July 16, 2016, to January of 2017. Starting in January of 2017, workers were paid the minimum wage of $10 an hour but were required to work off the clock 30-45 minutes per shift.

"Paying servers a daily rate below the minimum wage is a business model built on wage theft," Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su said. "This case demonstrates that when workers speak up about abuse, we will investigate and employers who rely on worker exploitation will be held accountable."    

The case was brought to the attention of the labor commission by the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Several of the affected workers had sought assistance from the group. 

"My office benefits from community partners like Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles who have the trust of workers and can help them come forward and cooperate with our investigations," Labor Commissioner Su added.

In addition to operating the Los Angeles, the group has locations in Redondo Beach, California, and Mack Road in Sacramento, California.

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