Herrera Sues Chinatown Restaurateurs for Minimum Wage Violations on Behalf of Cheated Workers

City’s First Legal Action to Enforce Voter-Passed 2003 Minimum Wage Ordinance Seeks Recovery Of Nearly $115,000 in Back Wages, Penalties

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 3, 2005) — In the City’s first legal action to enforce provisions of the San Francisco Minimum Wage Ordinance passed by voters in November 2003, City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sued two Chinatown restaurateurs for failing to adequately compensate employees of the now-defunct King Tin Restaurant. The lawsuit filed against Kam Kong Tang and Kai Yuen Ng in San Francisco Superior Court this morning seeks to recover back wages of nearly $70,000 and penalties of at least $45,000, which would be paid directly to the cheated workers, most of whom are Chinese immigrants. Herrera’s suit also seeks the recovery of all attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the action.

“Minimum wage cheats don’t merely deprive working men and women of their lawful right to earn a living wage, they unfairly compete with the vast majority of businesses that abide by the law,” said Herrera. “Our lawsuit today sends two clear messages: that we’re serious about protecting working families in San Francisco, and that there’s no profit motive in flouting our Minimum Wage Ordinance. We applaud the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement for its leadership in moving this case forward, and we intend to aggressively pursue the fullest possible restitution for King Tin’s cheated employees.”

“The City will protect the rights of all workers to the minimum wage,” said Donna Levitt, manager at the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. According to information provided to the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement by former employees of King Tin restaurant, workers were paid lump sum monthly amounts with no overtime pay for working up to one hundred hours a week.

The Minimum Wage Ordinance, passed by the voters in November 2003, calls for annual rate adjustments based on the previous year’s Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area. The most recent adjustment effective January 1, 2005 set the minimum wage in San Francisco at $8.62, with a separate rate for non-profit organizations and small businesses with fewer than ten employees of $7.75 per hour. In 2006, all employers — including small businesses and nonprofits — will be subject to the 2005 minimum wage rate of $8.62 as adjusted.

For more information about San Francisco’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, the public may call the City’s multi-lingual hotline at (415) 554-6292. The case is City and County of San Francisco vs. Kam Kong Tang et al, San Francisco Superior Court No. 05-443685.