AALDEF Demands That Dongari Restaurant Keep Its Promises and Pay Its Workers
Newark, NJ — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (AALDEF) New Jersey- Asian American Legal Project (NJ-AALP) announced a settlement on behalf of two Korean waitresses against Soo Moon Nam Jib Restaurant–the largest Korean restaurant in Palisades Park, New Jersey. AALDEF NJ-AALP filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for years of unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay and a charge with the National Labor Relations Board for violating Federal laws protecting workers who organize for improved working conditions. The settlement announcement follows a week when community residents and workers protested against the ongoing labor violations at another eatery, Dongari Restaurant, in Fort Lee.
AALDEF Staff Attorney Alex Saingchin said, “These workers labored long hours at Soo Moon Nam Jib for what amounted to pocket change. And their employers fired them for simply talking with their co-workers about improving their work environment. The owners of Soo Moon Nam Jib broke the law. We’re happy to have helped the workers receive justice.”
The waitresses worked twelve-hour days at the busy Soo Moon Nam Jib Restaurant, serving and cleaning up after customers at a non-stop pace. Yet, the employers never paid them minimum wage or overtime pay. In addition, the employers fired the two waitresses after the workers participated in a meeting to discuss the conditions at the restaurant as well as incidents of tip stealing.
This win marks another victory in AALDEF NJ-AALP’s Campaign for Korean Restaurant Workers’ Rights in New Jersey and follows the protest at Dongari Restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Last week, AALDEF, former employees of Dongari restaurant, and local residents demanded that the employers pay their workers the tens of thousands of dollars owed to them in unpaid wages, chanting “Respect labor laws!” and “Workers are not your slaves!” The owners of Dongari continue to break the law and not pay their workers. Some of the workers have not been paid in over eight months.
AALDEF Community Organizer, Elizabeth Koo, said, “When workers work, their employers have an obligation to pay. But somehow, the owners of Dongari think that the rules don’t apply to them. The workers are struggling to find jobs, make rent, and support their families. Yet, the owners make money from the restaurant, live in an affluent neighborhood, and drive a luxury BMW. This case is about right and wrong.”
AALDEF NJ-AALP opened its office in Newark, NJ in July 2007 and since 2005 has conducted free legal clinics in 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 immigrants 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.
For more information:
Alexander W. Saingchin
212.966.5932 ext. 207
212.966.5932 ext. 213