Restaurant Owner Sentenced to Jail for Egregious Wage Violations

Here in California, certain wage-related violations carry criminal penalties.  In this landmark collaboration between California Labor Commissioner Julie Su and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, the owner of Antique Thai restaurant in San Diego found this out the hard way.  The restaurant owner has been sentenced to two years in jail for egregious wage theft.

Workers uncovered wage violations when they filed complaints with the Labor Commissioner’s office in 2014.  After the Labor Commissioner discovered criminal wage theft, the office enlisted the assistance of the San Diego District Attorney.  The investigation revealed that the restaurant owner engaged in serious wage abuse targeting immigrant workers, including failure to pay at least the minimum wage, refusing to pay promised wages, requiring workers to work for as little as $4 an hour, paying workers only in tips, stealing tips, requiring workers to work through breaks, and egregious amounts of unpaid overtime.

The District Attorney and Labor Commissioner in collaboration were able to pursue the restaurant owner with felony charges of grand wage theft by false pretenses—a first in California—in addition to the misdemeanor charges available strictly through the wage provisions of the Labor Code.

The success of this collaboration serves as a model for putting the law to the service of working people by protecting those vulnerable to abuse by an employer.  All of us need to keep working to make this kind of accountability happen.  It will be especially important for us to pay attention and demand that the law work for working people in the upcoming administration.  We can do it!

Contact your labor law counsel with any questions.

By Xochitl Lopez | January 9, 2017

Legal Developments