Korean Immigrant Restaurant Workers Recover Over $30,000 in Unpaid Wages from Employer in Palisades Park

Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011

Palisades Park.jpgIn Palisades Park, New Jersey, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund's New Jersey-Asian American Legal Project (AALDEF NJ-AALP) recovered over $30,000 in unpaid wages for three Korean workers from the Pokoo Sushi & Sashimi Restaurant. One of the workers received unpaid wages of over $20,000, another received over $12,000, and the third received over $7,000.

"The three restaurant workers, all sushi chefs, often worked more than 12 hours a day, and rarely got breaks while they were continuously prepping for restaurant patrons and delivery orders," said Elizabeth Koo, a program associate at AALDEF. "All workers are entitled to payment for the work they performed, regardless of immigration status."

One of the workers, Mr. Lee (not his real name) said he was living under "severe suffering" because of unpaid wages. "I worked for one year and eight months, but I was not paid for 19 weeks," said Lee. "With AALDEF's help, we were able to get our money in less than one month."

Another worker had worked with AALDEF in the past on an unpaid wages campaign, where he learned that AALDEF gives free legal help and provides support for immigrant workers.

"He was able to be a leader and organize two of his fellow workers who were also owed money by the same employer," said Koo.

She noted the fact that workers are often concerned that if their employer is in a new business or is having trouble in his current business, they will not recover their money. Lee, who was owed more than $12,000, said that the restaurant employer had told him, "Business is not good; I don't have any money," and asked him to wait.

But Koo said workers in Lee's situation should not be deterred from seeking legal assistance because of their employers' circumstances. "The employer is still responsible to pay and follow the law, no exceptions," she said. "Fortunately, this was a case where the employer chose to do the right thing, and the workers were paid quickly, without having to sue."

If you would like further information, please contact:

Elizabeth Koo
Program Associate, NJ-AALP
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
ekoo@aaldef.org
212 966 5932 ex. 215

Ujala Sehgal
Communications Coordinator
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
usehgal@aaldef.org
212 966 5932 ex. 217

Since 2005, AALDEF NJ-AALP has worked closely with the Asian immigrant community in New Jersey by providing free legal advice, conducting "Know Your Rights" seminars, and representing Asian immigrant workers in lawsuits for unpaid wages, minimum wage, and overtime violations. AALDEF NJ-AALP has won more than $300,000 in back wages on behalf of Asian immigrants working in New Jersey. Individuals seeking assistance may contact the AALDEF helpline at (888) 406-1555. Language assistance is available.

Image: Wikimedia Commons