Press Release

Korean Immigrant Worker Wins $30,000 Settlement for Overtime from Jin Go Gae Restaurant

Newark, NJ — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) New Jersey – Asian American Legal Project (NJ-AALP)today announced a $30,000 settlement for unpaid overtime wages on behalf of “Ms. Shin,” a food preparer who worked at Jin Go Gae restaurant in Palisades Park, NJ.

“Overtime laws exist to protect workers from exploitative conditions. It is the employers’ responsibility to follow the law by informing their employees of their rights and paying them their proper wages,” said AALDEF Staff Attorney and NJ-AALP Director Alexander W. Saingchin.

NJ-AALP filed suit against the restaurant and its owners in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging they failed to pay “Ms. Shin” in accordance with Federal and state overtime laws from the years 2004 through 2007. “Ms. Shin’s” duties included preparing appetizers, side dishes, and other food items for the restaurant. Although “Ms. Shin” regularly performed these duties for more than 72 hours a week, the restaurant owners never paid “Ms. Shin” the overtime wages she was entitled to under the law. Instead, they paid her only a flat sum of $765 per week. Even though her pay was raised each year, she was consistently denied her proper overtime pay. “Ms. Shin” said, “If I am working longer hours, I should be paid properly for it. Now I know what overtime pay is and that I have a right to overtime pay under the law.”

Under Federal and New Jersey law, workers are entitled to receive 1.5 times their hourly rate of pay for every hour that they work over 40 hours per week. Workers have a right to overtime pay regardless of their immigration status. “It’s a simple concept really–you pay time and a half for each hour that your employees work over forty hours a week,” concluded Saingchin.

The settlement against Jin Go Gae marks another victory in NJ-AALP’s Campaign for Korean Restaurant Workers’ Rights in New Jersey. NJ-AALP recently announced a settlement against Dae Ga Korean and Japanese Restaurant B.B.Q and Sushi Bar in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The campaign’s goals are to educate Korean restaurant workers about their rights and to empower them to fight for positive changes in the industry.

AALDEF NJ-AALP opened its office in Newark, NJ in July 2007 and since 2005 has conducted free legal clinics in northern and central New Jersey to assist Asian immigrants and Asian Americans with employment and immigration matters. NJ-AALP has worked closely with the Korean immigrant community by providing free legal advice, conducting ‘Know Your Rights’ seminars, and representing Korean immigrant workers in lawsuits for unpaid wages, minimum wage, and overtime violations. In the past 18 months, NJ-AALP won close to $170,000 in back wages on behalf of Korean immigrants working in New Jersey. Individuals seeking assistance may contact the AALDEF NJ-AALP helpline at (888) 406-1555. Korean language assistance is available.

(Photos of NJ-AALP clinics available upon request)

  • Not her real name

For more information:
Alexander W. Saingchin
Staff Attorney
212.966.5932 ext. 207