The City Attorney’s office alleged that the restaurant owners took advantage of immigrant workers who were unaware of basic labor laws and minimum wage standards. San Francisco has the highest minimum wage in the entire country at $10.55/hour, though it was slightly lower ($9.92/hour) when the case was filed against the eatery.
“I did everything; whatever the boss asked me to do,” one employee told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They only gave me three hours on my paycheck, but I worked 9 (a.m.) to 9 (p.m.) – 11 hours because I got an hour for lunch.”
The woman, who will receive about $89,000 for her five years of underpaid work, wanted to remain anonymous for the story because she feared being unable to get a job at another restaurant.
A second former worker says she not only toiled at the restaurant during the day, but was the owners’ housecleaner in the evening.
The restaurant has apparently already turned over the $525,000 to the city.
These sorts of crackdowns aren’t just in the interest of human rights and observing the law. The city and state were both cheated out of tax revenue by the restaurant. The Chronicle reports that, between the lost taxes and the money that properly paid employees would have injected back into the economy, these sort of schemes result in $7 billion/year lost to the state of California.
Since 2004, San Francisco has collected more than $7.4 million in back pay and interest for workers and $526,000 in penalties.