“2 Chinese Restaurants Accused of Labor Violations” – New York Times



A group of Chinese restaurant workers have filed a claim this week with the National Labor Relations Board against Wu Liang Ye, a Chinese restaurant group which the workers sued for labor violations in April 2008.

In the original lawsuit, 25 workers — waiters and delivery workers at restaurants on the Upper East Side and in Midtown — accused the restaurant’s management of failing to pay overtime and meet the minimum wage. The suit also asserted that restaurant managers improperly took 10 percent of all tips that were paid by credit card and, in addition, may have taken tip money that they never distributed to busboys. The lawsuit was filed by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell.

In court filings, the restaurant group has denied all of the charges. However, the workers said in the new complaint that since February, the restaurant group has threatened and harassed them for union-organizing activities in retaliation. In addition, the filing with the board says the management had improper fired employees in retaliation, including Li Fen Li, one of the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit.

The restaurant group and the law firm representing it, L’Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini, of Garden City, N.Y., did not respond to messages on Thursday. Court papers identified the restaurant group’s top managers as James Li, also known as Jian Li, and Susan Li and said it was a wholly owned subsidiary of a Chinese company.

The new complaint was filed with the help of the Justice Will Be Served campaign, which has helped organize many restaurant workers across the city, including workers at Ollie’s and Remi.

In addition to the two Wu Liang Ye locations named in the suit, there is a third, unrelated restaurant with the same name, on West 48th Street. That restaurant had been originally named in the 2008 suit, but the case against that restaurant was dismissed when its managers showed their owners were unrelated to the other two Wu Liang Ye restaurants, said Hugh H. Mo, the lawyer for the 48th Street restaurant.

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