Patch: Ex-Malden Restaurant Hit With Lawsuit Alleging Wage Theft, Retaliation
In the federal suit, 3 former employees are asking for over $230,000 in unpaid wages, overtime pay and stolen tips.
By Dan Shalin
MALDEN, MA — Three former employees of an out-of-business Malden Chinese restaurant have filed a federal lawsuit alleging wage theft and retaliation by the establishment, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
The plaintiffs, who are represented by the AALDEF, are seeking over $230,000 in unpaid wages, overtime pay, stolen tips from Sichuan Taste, which was located at 290 Main St. until it closed in Oct. 2022.
The suit was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
The trio filing the lawsuit worked in janitorial, dishwashing, kitchen, delivery, host and wait staff positions between 2020-22, losing their jobs when the restaurant abruptly shut down.
In addition to claiming that wages were stolen, the lawsuit alleges that the Sichuan Taste manager retaliated and threatened workers who tried to organize to demand their wages.
"Wage and hour laws exist to protect workers from exploitative conditions. Employers must abide by the law and pay their employees their lawful wages," said Elizabeth Koo, senior counsel at AALDEF. "Every worker is entitled to have their wages paid in full for work performed —regardless of immigration status."
In an AALDEF release, one of the litigants — a middle-aged immigrant referred to only as Mr. Zhang due to fear of retaliation for speaking out about the situation — explained why he is seeking back wages.
"We dedicated extensive hours to the restaurant. I worked hard so I could raise my child, provide for my family in China and support my father who is terminally ill and needed hundreds of dollars just for a single dose of medicine. I need to get my wages back," Mr. Zhang said
Malden, according to the AALDEF, has one of the highest growth rates of Asian Americans in New England. In the 2020 census, over 25 percent of Malden residents identified as Asian American. The city also has emerged as a "thriving hub for Asian American families and businesses," the AALDEF said.
In fact, another Asian restaurant — Atlantic Seafood Restaurant — has opened in the former Sichuan Taste space.