The Korean Workers Project, a collaboration between the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community, announced today a back-wage settlement of $17,500 on behalf of a former nail salon worker from Flushing, Queens.
AALDEF Attorney Steven Choi and YKASEC Program Associate Kathy Chae introduced Mr. Lee, an immigrant from Korea who was obligated by his employer, a nail salon in the New York metropolitan area, to work 13-hour days, six to seven days a week for nearly a year, without receiving overtime or spread-of-hours wages. Although he was employed as a driver and as a worker for the nail salon, Mr. Lee worked mornings and evenings without breaks, and did not have access to any records of his hours.
“I’ve realized that there are many other people besides me who work in nail salons for long hours and for low pay," said Mr. Lee. “I know now how important it is for workers to learn about their rights and to assert them. I want to tell all the other workers, working in similar situations, not to give up but instead to fight their rights, and that groups like YKASEC and AALDEF will help them.”
“The agreeable settlement of Mr. Lee’s case underscores the fact that employers have a legal responsibility to keep accurate records of their workers hours,” says Choi, who directs the Korean Workers Project and represented Mr. Lee. “A paper trail is not only a crucial protection for workers, but also a signal to employers from all industries that they must comply with basic hour and wage laws instead of one-size-fits-all worker payments. This practice also ensures that we avoid lawsuits that ending up costing employers dearly at the end of the day.”
The Korean Workers Project provides traditional direct legal services free of charge to low-wage Korean immigrant workers through AALDEF, in conjunction with YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community, offers community education and outreach efforts. By combining these two approaches, the Korean Workers Project seeks to protect the rights of these Korean immigrant workers and to help them achieve social and economic justice.