The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has cited three Southern California restaurants for more than $1 million in wage theft violations, with the heaviest fine on a North Hollywood-based Thai restaurant.
Labor Commissioner Julie Su ordered Sanamluang Cafe to pay nine workers $708,457 in lost wages and break period restitution.
According to the Orange County Register, Sanamluang Café principals Surapong and Viriya Chinotaikul have been under scrutiny by the state since August 2017. Investigators determined that that owners paid their workers a flat rate of $50 for a 10- to 11.5-hour shift daily with no meal or rest breaks. Yet even after the investigation made them aware of workplace violations, the Chinotaikuls continued to disobey labor laws and, as a result, were assessed additional penalties. In total, Sanamluang Café, located at 12980 Sherman Way, must pay $833,707, including $125,250 worth of civil penalties.
The violations happened because North Hollywood, as part of Greater Los Angeles, falls under a $12 an hour minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer workers. Therefore, an employee working a 10-hour shift should gross at least $120 a day.
Two other locations — also Thai restaurants and owned by the same people — have to pay hefty fines: Orchid Thai Cuisine in Arcadia must award $307,133 to 11 employees, while Orchid Thai in Baldwin Park has been ordered to give $50,056 to two former employees.
Thai Community Development Center and Bet Tzedek Legal Services represented the employees collectively.
The violations constitute the third major restaurant-related wage theft case in Southern California this year. In June, Cheesecake Factory in Calabasas was ordered to pay 559 janitors more than $4.5 million in lost wages and fines, while in February, it was ruled that Shrimp Lover in Hollywood owed $500,000 to employees.