New York, NY—Nineteen Chinese immigrant waiters, bussers, and dim sum sellers filed a federal suit against the Chinatown restaurant, The Nice Restaurant, earlier this afternoon. The plaintiffs are seeking to recover damages for labor violations including minimum wage, overtime pay, and ownership of tips.
According to the complaint, which the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the owners and managers of Nice illegally kept a portion of gratuities intended for the restaurant service workers and imposed an involuntary tip pooling system managed at the discretion of management.
Nice restaurant is located at 35 East Broadway. The workers had been negotiating with the owners since January to obtain their stolen tips and unpaid wages. After what appeared to be an agreement, the restaurant closed down on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, in what the workers believe is a futile effort to avoid paying them. The lawsuit is against the restaurant and its owner and managers Ben H. Tom, Mei Mei Tom, Yan Shing Chan, Cheung Yong, Si Shing Sun, Shen Ping Chu, John Tam, Si Kit Wu, Si Hung Wu, Chui Bai Tam, and Jimmy Moy.
Some of the workers were employed at Nice as early as 1985. The plaintiffs were organized by the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association.
Said AALDEF Legal Director Kenneth Kimerling, “The restaurant management willfully and unlawfully pocketed a portion of the tips that rightfully belong to the wait staff and bussers. Although the restaurant has shut its doors, our experience in the courts has demonstrated that the owners and managers are not beyond the reach of the law.”