New York—The Korean Workers Project, a collaboration between the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and YKASEC Empowering Korean Communities, today demanded payment on behalf of 13 cooks, waitresses, waiters, busboys, and other workers at the Queens restaurant Seoul Plaza and Young Bin Kwan banquet hall.
Several workers from the restaurant, along with AALDEF Attorney Steven Choi and YKASEC Program Associate Kathy Chae, demanded that the owners pay the workers their rightful wages, and announced a lawsuit filed against the company and its owners earlier this week. The workers are represented by Mr. Choi and attorney Alanna Coopersmith of the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, which served as pro-bono co-counsel in the suit.
The Korean Workers Project provided the restaurant workers nearly all immigrants from Korea with legal advice and representation after their employers abruptly shuttered their restaurant in February 2005 without paying a number of the workers up to five weeks wages. Upon further investigation, the restaurant had also failed to comply with federal and state labor laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and other terms of employment. Many of the employees worked 70 hours a week without receiving any overtime pay. The restaurant also mishandled tips paid to service staff, in direct violation of the law.
The Korean Workers Project provides traditional direct legal services free of charge to low-wage Korean immigrant workers through AALDEF, in conjunction with YKASEC Empowering the Korean American Community, offers community education and outreach efforts. By combining these two approaches, the Korean Workers Project seeks to protect the rights of these Korean immigrant workers and to help them achieve social and economic justice.