Press Release

Korean Immigrant Construction Worker Collects on Back Wage Settlement by Seizing Employer’s Bank Account


New York, NY—The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Korean Workers Project today announced that it has successfully enforced a back wage settlement on behalf of a Korean construction worker after the defendants assets were frozen and seized with the assistance of a New York County sheriff. The Korean Workers Project approached the Sheriffs Department after the employer repeatedly refused to pay the worker, Mr. Park his back wages under a settlement the two parties had reached months earlier.

Mr. Park, an immigrant from Korea and a resident of Queens, worked more than 10 hours a day at a construction site where he performed welding work. Mr. Park’s employer, a contractor, had agreed to pay him $120 per day for a week-long project. Despite the fact that he worked 52 hours that week, the employer never paid Mr. Park any of the promised wagesincluding legally-required overtime pay.

AALDEF Staff Attorney and Korean Workers Project Director Steven Choi, who represented Mr. Park in his claim for the unpaid wages, filed a lawsuit on Mr. Parks behalf in Small Claims Court in April 2006. In May 2006, the Korean Workers Project negotiated an in-court settlement of approximately $700 for Mr. Park.

However, the employer violated the settlement and paid Mr. Park less than half of the agreed amount. In order to enforce the settlement, AALDEF asked the New York County Sheriffs Department to freeze the bank account of Mr. Park’s former employer and seize the remainder of the court settlement. Mr. Park finally received the balance of his back wages in December 2006.

“Employers cannot avoid paying workers the wages theyre owed, since workers also have the power to enforce a judgment through the legal system,” said Mr. Choi. “As creditors, workers whose claims are upheld in court have basic rights, and we will help them enforce these rights until the interest of justice is served.”

The Korean Workers Project provides direct legal services free of charge to low-wage Korean immigrant workers through AALDEF, in conjunction with YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community. Through community education and outreach, the Korean Workers Project seeks to protect the rights of these Korean immigrant workers and to help them achieve social and economic justice. To contact the Korean Workers Project, call (212) 966-5932 x223.

  • Not his actual name.