Un­paid fed­eral work­ers sound off to Rep. Lee.

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Ash­ley McBride

Two Bay Area restau­ra­teurs have been or­dered to pay $1.7 mil­lion for their treat­ment of dozens of for­mer em­ploy­ees for gar­nish­ing the work­ers’ tips, deny­ing them over­time pay and med­i­cal care, and hous­ing them in ab­hor­rent con­di­tions, au­thor­i­ties an­nounced Thurs­day.

Hai Jie Chen and Hak Chun Ng em­ployed 56 work­ers in three Malaysian-Chi­nese restau­rants around the Bay Area: Mango Gar­den in Fre­mont, Mango Jun­gle in San Jose and Mango Blaze in San Ma­teo.

For more than three years, Chen and Ng bussed their em­ploy­ees to and from work and re­quired them to la­bor up to 12 hours a day while re­fus­ing to pay over­time, of­fi­cials with the Alameda County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice said. Many times, the work­ers were paid as lit­tle as $2 an hour and their tips were stolen. Dur­ing this time, the own­ers pro­vided di­lap­i­dated apart­ments for their em-

ploy­ees, some­times hous­ing as many as 15 peo­ple in a two-bed­room unit with mat­tresses on the floor, of­fi­cials said.

When Chen and Ng found out their work­ers were plan­ning to sue them, they shut­tered two of their com­pa­nies, cre­ated new busi­nesses and reg­is­tered dif­fer­ent own­ers on pa­per­work to avoid the law­suit, ac­cord­ing to the state la­bor com­mis­sioner’s of­fice.

Chen and Ng’s as­sets were seized, and they are re­quired to pay $1,006,455 in back wages to their work­ers, $550,000 in fines or­dered by the la­bor com­mis­sioner’s of­fice, plus more than $250,000 in em­ploy­ment, in­sur­ance and sales tax fraud.

“We are here to pro­tect the rights of work­ers, and will bring

to jus­tice any em­ployer who en­gages in ex­ploita­tion of his or her em­ploy­ees,” Dis­trict At­tor­ney Nancy O’Mal­ley said in a state­ment.

Chen was con­victed of felony charges of con­spir­ing to com­mit wage theft and tax and in­sur­ance fraud, while Ng was con­victed of fail­ure to pay min­i­mum wage, a mis­de­meanor charge, of­fi­cials said.

The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice en­cour­ages any­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing la­bor traf­fick­ing or la­bor ex­ploita­tion to call the of­fice’s worker pro­tec­tion divi­sion at 510-3838600.

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