Owners of the former Kome Seafood and Buffet restaurant in Daly City have reached a $2.6 million settlement with the state’s Labor Commissioner’s Office that secures payment for 133 employees who were not paid minimum wage, overtime pay or split-shift premiums.
Officials said the settlement includes penalties for a violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide written notice at least 60 days before a closure or massive layoffs. The restaurant suddenly closed in 2019 and employees had not been notified.
The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, launched an investigation into the wage theft allegation in 2018.
An payroll audit found 69 cooks, sushi chefs and dishwashers generally worked more than 55 hours a week at a fixed salary that did not include overtime.
Both the Asian Law Caucus and the Chinese Progressive Association represented many of the employees of the restaurant.
Through a statement made by the Asian Law Caucus, a former employee of Kome, Chiu Ping Tam, said:
“I was treated unfairly many times, and that anger helped me conquer my fears. As a result, I joined the organizing efforts and learned that with unity comes protection for all of us.”
California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said in a statement:
“These workers have waited a long time for the wages they earned. This settlement puts that money back in their pockets and is a testament to these workers standing up for their rights.”
Back in June 2018, the Labor Commission had assessed penalties of $5.16 million against the restaurant owners, including $4,381,461 for unpaid back wages and $780,400 for civil penalties.
The amounts were reassessed last year to $754,050 in civil penalties and $3,575,433 for back wages, based on the evidence presented prior to a hearing, officials said.
Workers are set to receive payments ranging from $20 to $47,253 with an average of $14,217 per worker.
Employees have already been notified of the settlement and will start receiving checks starting this month, the Labor Commission said.