Spitzer's Corner Gastropub and Former "Apprentice" Reach Settlement in Labor Exploitation Case

Thursday, Oct 25, 2012

This week, the gastropub Spitzer's Corner and former kitchen employee Edward Kim effectuated settlement of a wage-and-hour action Kim filed earlier this May in Manhattan federal court, Kim v. NYLA Cafe, LLC, Case No. 12 Civ. 3214 (S.D.N.Y.).

AALDEF filed suit on behalf of Kim against the restaurant, its owner Robert Shamlian, general manager David Moon, and former executive chef Sung Park alleging multiple violations of federal and state labor laws, including unpaid wages and minimum, overtime, and spread-of-hours wages.

"I worked for them as hard as I could, sometimes 19 hours a day, because I was promised I would be trained by as skilled a chef as Chef Park," said Kim in a previous statement. "I never even took a day off."

Mr. Kim alleged that he was told by Chef Park that he was being hired as his "apprentice" to the Michelin star-awarded chef. Instead, the aspiring cook wound up performing tasks of two or three workers, laboring over 90 hours a week for as little as $3 an hour, the complaint alleged.

AALDEF staff attorney Shirley Lin, who represented Mr. Kim, said in a previous statement, "Chef Park and Spitzer's Corner misused the apprenticeship label to pay a young worker poverty wages and deny him an accurate accounting of all the hours he worked."

From the New York Times' previous report on the complaint:

The suit, filed on behalf of Mr. Kim by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said that Mr. Kim was paid $350 to $450 a week and worked a minimum of 80 hours a week. His pay often worked out to below $3 an hour and was rarely much more than $5, the suit said...

Mr. Kim, who worked at the restaurant from March 2010 to January 2011, was also routinely ordered to punch in on the time clock many hours after he had actually started work and punch out many hours before he left, the suit says...

Mr. Kim seeks back pay and damages of more than $63,000.

"The Parties have reached an amicable agreement, and the entirety of the matter was settled to the satisfaction of all parties," said Lin.

Since 1974, AALDEF, a non-profit civil rights organization, has represented and advised hundreds of Asian immigrant workers in connection with unpaid wages and other wage theft violations.  For assistance or more information, please contact AALDEF at 212.966.5932 extension 224 (English) or (888) 406-1555 extension 4 (Korean).

Kim v. NYLA Cafe, LLC, No. 12 Civ. 3214 (S.D.N.Y.)

Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 ex.217