Many instances of wage theft in California and elsewhere remain unreported, especially by foreign workers who may not be fully aware of their rights. Often, the employees also fear that the complaints may cost them their jobs. For nearly a year and a half, a group of immigrant workers employed by the Yank Sing restaurant in San Francisco banded together to fight back for the overtime and other rights that they claim were denied to them.

One of the leaders of the campaign for better wages complained that she spent long days at the restaurant. She peeled shrimp, wrapped wontons and completed other cooking duties in the eatery. For all of her hard work, she says she was paid a little more than the minimum wage of $12.25 per hour.

Although she worked 11 and 12 hour days, she only saw eight hours of that work reflected on her pay check. This happened to approximately another 280 past and present workers at the restaurant who participated in the wage claim, which was investigated by the California Labor Commissioner’s office. During the investigation, it was also discovered that the managers were stealing tips from the workers and forcing them to work after they had clocked out.

Once the owners of the California restaurant were alerted to the allegations of wage theft, they were apparently shocked and overhauled their management staff. The case settled for $4 million, equating to four years of unpaid overtime and other unpaid wages for the workers involved. To prevent this in the future, the owners of Yank Sing have also given the workers completely paid health insurance. The workers will also now have tracking sheets for hours worked as well as receive all of their state mandated rest periods.

Source: wunc.org, “How dim sum cooks in California fought wage theft- and won“, Vinnee Tong, Aug. 3, 2015