Newark, NJ - Mr. Ahn,” a Korean immigrant and Bergen County resident, filed suit today against C. Y. Kim, owner of Rodeo Plaza mall in Palisades Park, to recover tens of thousands of dollars in minimum wage and overtime pay. The AALDEF New Jersey Asian American Legal Project (NJ-AALP), which represents Mr. Ahn, filed the federal complaint on his behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
For three and a half years, Mr. Ahn worked as a parking attendant without a salary, taking home to his family only each days tips. After he repeatedly inquired about receiving a regular wage, in November 2005 the company finally began to pay him a paltry salary of approximately $667 a month, or approximately $2.43 an hour.
Rodeo Plaza also never paid Mr. Ahn any overtime. As a valet, Mr. Ahn regularly pulled 12- to 15-hour shifts during four out of the five days a week he worked from as early as 9 a.m. until 12 midnight. He left Rodeo Plaza in August 2006, and contacted the AALDEF NJ-AALP this spring after reading about the organization in a Korean-language newspaper.
Mr. Ahn, who did not wish his real name to be disclosed, said, “The law is there for a reason and the owner of Rodeo Plaza should follow the law and pay his employees what they are due. I hope that others will not experience the same situation as I have.”
Said AALDEF NJ-AALP Director Alexander Saingchin, “While Mr. Ahn was unsure at first about his right to get paid a minimum wage, he followed his gut feeling that what his employer was doing was outright wrong. Our state and federal labor laws exist to protect workers from this type of abuse, and we are glad to assist Mr. Ahn and other immigrant workers like him so that they receive their rightful wages.”
Because Rodeo Plaza willfully withheld paying Mr. Ahn a basic salary and overtime, the lawsuit also seeks liquidated damages and interest, which he is entitled to receive under federal and state laws.
The AALDEF NJ-AALP opened its first office in Newark, NJ last Thursday and since 2005 has conducted free legal clinics in northern and central New Jersey to assist Asian immigrants and Asian Americans with their questions about employment and immigration law.
The New Jersey Asian American Legal Project is an initiative of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund designed to address the unmet legal needs of the Asian American community in New Jersey.