Court Rules AALDEF Can Seek Over $100,000 for Unpaid Workers from "Parent" Corporation of Failed Chinatown Restaurant

Friday, Mar 23, 2012

Chinatown restaurant.jpgThe District Court of the Southern District of New York ordered TYT East Corp., owner of the failed Jin Hua Restaurant, to pay unpaid wages and overtime to Jin Hua's former staff of Asian immigrant workers. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), together with pro bono counsel Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, is representing 22 members of Jin Hua's former staff, including waiters, waitresses, bussers, and dim sum workers, who had been denied minimum wage, overtime, and in some cases, their entire paycheck. AALDEF will be seeking over $100,000 in damages.

During the course of their employment at Jin Hua, the workers' wages fell below the state and federal legal minimum wage levels. TYT failed to pay the workers for several weeks, and then abruptly closed the restaurant and locked the workers out.

"In the current economic recession, it is not unusual for owners to close unprofitable restaurants. But that gives them no excuse to fail to pay their low-wage employees, who are often struggling far more than the owners," said Ken Kimerling, Legal Director at AALDEF.

In 2010, AALDEF filed a complaint on behalf of the workers to seek their unpaid wages and overtime pay. TYT responded to the lawsuit by saying it was not responsible, despite the fact that it had set up Jin Hua and hired the CEO to run the restaurant. TYT said that the workers could only seek money from the closed restaurant itself -- which had no money. The workers claimed that TYT was responsible for the restaurant and the corporation that ran it.

In an opinion on March 21, the court agreed with AALDEF and found that TYT and Jin Hua were operated as a single company. Its decision noted how Jin Hua neither established a separate board of directors nor held independent shareholder meetings. Moreover, TYT's own shareholders and officers managed different aspects of Jin Hua's business, and even paid the workers themselves in cash initially. The court held that both TYT and Jin Hua were jointly liable.

"Jin Hua was a separate corporation in name only," said Kimerling. "We're pleased the court recognized that TYT could not avoid paying workers who were in reality its own employees."

Download the court's decision [pdf]

Contact:
Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 ex.217
646.207.1497
usehgal@aaldef.org


Image: Paul Lowry/Flickr


11.7.18

Preliminary results of AALDEF exit poll of more than 7,600 Asian American voters in midterm elections

11.6.18

AALDEF to conduct Asian American Exit Poll and monitor poll sites in 14 states

10.30.18

AALDEF criticizes Trump's intention to end birthright citizenship by executive order

10.29.18

AALDEF stands in solidarity with Pittsburgh and Louisville

10.6.18

Volunteers needed for AALDEF Asian American Exit Poll and to monitor polling places in 2018 elections

9.28.18

AALDEF denounces White House plan to redefine "public charge" for immigrants seeking green cards

9.10.18

Sept. 12: AALDEF legal director Ken Kimerling receives 2018 New York County Lawyers Association Public Service Award

8.30.18

35 Asian American groups and higher ed faculty file amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard

7.10.18

AALDEF statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court

6.26.18

AALDEF deplores the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Muslim ban

4.23.18

Korean and Latino workers at Kum Gang San restaurants win enforcement of $2.7 million wage theft judgment

3.27.18

AALDEF opposes Trump administration's politicization of Census 2020 by adding citizenship question

12.4.17

2017 AALDEF exit poll: 2,538 Asian American voters polled in 4 states: VA, NJ, NY, MA

8.23.17

Federal appeals court upholds ruling in AALDEF case that Texas election law violates Voting Rights Act