One of San Francisco's most popular and acclaimed restaurants has reached a massive $4 million labor settlement with its workers, who accused owners of wage theft and other serious labor violations.
Yank Sing workers get $4 million settlement from ownership
Last week, 280 current and former employees of Yank Sing, which operates two popular dim sum restaurant locations, received a $4 million dollar backpay and benefits settlement over a host of blatant labor violations, including issues surrounding overtime pay, tips and wage theft and shift breaks.
The action was organized with the help of the Chinese Progressive Association and the Asian Law Caucus, who filed complaints with government agencies and confronted Yang Sing's management with their demands:
Infractions included failure to pay minimum wages and overtime, making prep cooks and servers work off the clock, denials of meal and rest breaks, and managers grabbing tips meant for waiters.
"It was all pretty blatant," said California Labor Commissioner Julie Su, whose staff led the investigation along with the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. Employers often "do not expect their employees to complain. They believe that it's cheaper to break the law because the chances of getting caught are slim, and the costs of getting caught are minimal."
That's not what happened at Yank Sing, where a few whistle-blowing staffers sought advice from the Chinese Progressive Assn., which advocates for low-wage earners, and the Asian Law Caucus, a nonprofit offering legal aid to the working poor. By the end of summer 2013, most of the restaurant's approximately 280 employees joined the action. They filed complaints with government agencies and confronted Yank Sing's management with demands for better pay and conditions.
To their credit, the Chan family, which owns the Yank Sing restaurants, were reportedly quick to comply and fix things as quickly as possible, entering into the landmark wage settlement. They blamed their problems on "poor record keeping" and years of "not following correct procedures." Whatever the case, it messed with people's hard-earned livelihoods, and it's now a four million dollar mistake.
More here: Restaurants are feeling the heat in crackdown on wage theft