In our October 21, 2008 Blog entry, we discussed a recent award of $4.6 million dollars imposed upon New York’s famed Saigon Grill as a result of federal and New York State wage violations.
The owners of two Saigon Grill restaurants were arrested last week on more than 400 criminal counts, including minimum wage violations and fraud upon the state. As reported in the December 4, 2008 New York Times, the lawyer for the owners state that “They never underpaid their workers. Their workers are liars. They never cooked the books.” It is doubtful that this strategy of denial will work, considering the apparent findings of the federal district court, which had imposed the $4.6 million of damages upon the New York eateries.
The action was filed in 2007 by thirty-six men who worked for Saigon Grill during various periods from 1999 to 2007. The plaintiffs asserted claims for minimum wage and overtime violations under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged unlawful deductions from wages that were imposed by Saigon Grill as fines or penalties for workplace infractions. Plaintiffs also sought reimbursement for expenses relating to their bicycles and motorcycles, which they used for making deliveries.
The criminal prosecution of the restaurant’s owners for minimum wage and other violations underscores New York’s commitment to ending improper wage practices directed at vulnerable workers.