The owners of the ever popular dim sum destination Yank Sing, which between its two locations employs 280 people, have agreed to pay $4 million in back pay and benefits to its workers after state regulators confronted them about the minimum wage law, overtime, and tip thefts by managers. As the LA Times reports, the Chan family "moved quickly to boost pay and improve working conditions" once the audits by the California Labor Commission and the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement began, revealing multiple violations over time. But how did they get away with this so long?
Sadly, the reason seems, in part, to be that they employ so many recent Chinese immigrants who speak little English and likely didn't know their rights. A group of whistleblowers on staff went to the Chinese Progressive Association and the Asian Law Caucus in 2013, and by August of last year they had most of the restaurant's staff, including its 90 full-time employees, participating in a class-action against the restaurant.
A new director of operations, Jonathan Glick, who took over last fall tells Inside Scoop "We’ve taken responsibility for [our mistakes]. We are compensating for the past, and have put in place a structure that ensures we will be a company that our workers enjoy working at for a long time in the future."
61-year-old fry cook Xiuzhen Li, who emigrated from Taishan, China, tells the Times that "The difference is drastic" with the restaurant's new policies, and she is thrilled. Li had been working from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for sub-minimum wages and "racing against the clock" all the day with minimal breaks. Ugh.
It's estimated by the National Employment Law Project that 1 in 4 low-wage workers in Chicago, L.A., and New York is not earning a minimum wage and nor are they getting overtime.
So, hooray for whistleblowers.