Restaurant owners accused of shorting worker wages

Restaurant owners accused of shorting worker wages

Michele Ellson

The state’s labor commissioner is ordering the owners of Toomie’s Thai Cuisine on Park Street to pay nearly a half million dollars in fines and wages the state claims 13 of the restaurant’s workers are owed. But the restaurant’s owner is denying the state’s claims and says he plans to appeal.

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su ordered the restaurant’s owners to pay $481,813 in wages and civil penalties for violating minimum wage, overtime and rest period laws, a press release the state Department of Industrial Relations issued Wednesday said.

But Toomie’s owner Narong Udomrak denied those claims and said he’s hiring a lawyer to fight them.

“This is not true. It’s not right,” Udomrak said Wednesday. “They have to give me the opportunity to appeal. I never paid anyone lower than minimum wage.”

According to the release, an inspection conducted by the Labor Commissioner and Employment Development Department found that cooks, dishwashers, servers and kitchen helpers who worked at the restaurant “routinely” worked ten and a half hours a day, up to seven days a week. The inspection was based on complaints filed in August, it said.

It said that instead of being paid the state-mandated minimum wage or overtime rate, the restaurant’s owners paid workers in cash – $45 per day for servers and between $75 and $120 per day for kitchen workers.

The release said workers weren’t allowed to leave the restaurant until it closed to customers at 2:30 p.m. each day and that they reported back when it reopened at 4:30 p.m. – and that those workers weren’t paid a mandated split-shift premium. It also said the restaurant’s owners didn’t keep time records prior to September 1 of this year or provide workers with itemized wage statements.

It said the restaurant’s owners owe $373,613 to workers in back wages and $108,200 in fines.

The release says the state is cracking down on wage theft and that state officials have greatly increased efforts to make delinquent employers pay.

"We want to create a culture of compliance where employers profit by playing by the rules and employers who have concluded that it is cheaper to break the law … know that those days are over,” Su was quoted as saying in the release.

But Udomrak said the state’s fines were too high.

“They overcharged. It’s not that bad,” he said.

Comments

Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Wed, Oct 9, 2013

These practices are rampant in the food service industry. It's about time these owners are held accountable.

Submitted by Jared (not verified) on Tue, Oct 15, 2013

Unfortunately, the Labor Commission can only go back three years. Toomie's has been in business since 2006. So dishonorable.

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