The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)’s New Jersey-Asian American Legal Project announced a major victory for two Indian Gujarati food factory workers in a federal lawsuit against Rajbhog Foods (NJ), Inc. and its owners. The workers recovered $8,500 for unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay from their former employers.
The workers regularly labored between fifty to sixty hours per week, often for ten or more hours each day, frying snacks and packing orders for shipping at a non-stop pace. Despite repeated requests for their earnings, Rajbhog Foods deliberately failed to pay its former employees their lawful wages. After leaving their jobs, the workers sought assistance from AALDEF NJ-AALP at one of their community legal clinics.
AALDEF Staff Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Aparna Garg said: “These women worked long days in difficult conditions, never knowing when and how much they would be getting paid.” Garg continued, “State and federal laws exist to protect all workers, regardless of their immigration status, from exploitation and abuse. AALDEF will continue to stand with workers who come forward to assert their rights and will hold unscrupulous employers accountable for their actions.”
Rajbhog Foods (NJ) continues business as a manufacturer and nationwide distributor of Indian snack foods, with 10 Indian fast-food franchises across the country, a thriving mail-order operation, and a processing plant and distribution center located in Jersey City, NJ.
Indiraben, a former worker at Rajbhog Foods’ Jersey City distribution center said: “I feel very happy to receive the money I was owed. I worked very hard for Rajbhog, and only asked to be paid fairly and on time. I encourage others to not be afraid, they too can stand up for themselves and get the money they have rightfully earned.”
Asmeeta, who also worked at the distribution center, said: “I didn’t get paid fully or get paid overtime. That is why I decided seek legal help from AALDEF. By filing a lawsuit, I was simply demanding the money I was owed. I wanted to make sure Rajbhog would not treat any other employee this way again.”