Coakley

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Tuesday that her office has cited the owners of two Chinese food restaurants for alleged intentional violations of the state's minimum wage, child labor and anti-retaliation laws.

Yuan Huan Inc. -- doing business as Grand China Buffet and formerly located in Raynham -- corporate president Xue Ying You of Fall River and manager Casidy Lu of Fall River have been ordered to pay more than $52,000 in restitution and more than $129,000 in penalties for allegedly failing to pay the minimum wage, willful failure to pay timely wages, willful failure to provide pay stubs, willful retaliation against an employee for making a wage complaint, willful failure to furnish employment records to Coakley and permitting a child to work beyond permissible work hours and in excess of maximum work hours.

Coakley's office also cited Prosperity Enterprises Inc., doing business as New York Chinese Buffet and located in Somerset; corporate president Zhi Hao Zhang, also known as Zi Qian Zhang of Swansea; treasurer Ai Yi Lu; and manager Ming Kuai Lu, also known as Steven Lu of Fall River, for alleged willful failure to pay the minimum wage, willful failure to pay timely wages, willful failure to provide pay stubs, willful retaliation against an employee for making a wage complaint and willful failure to furnish employment records to Coakley.

Coakley's office alleged that the restaurants' kitchen workers worked more than 70 hours a week, six days per week and at far less than the state's minimum wage of $8 an hour if they were paid at all. In addition, Coakley's office alleged that a 16-years-old minor received no compensation for her nine months of work while working the same long days and hours and that employees were routinely denied meal breaks.

In addition to the alleged wage and hours violations, Coakley's office alleged that employees were paid approximately one time per month in cash and had to continuously ask to be paid. Employees allegedly suffered retaliation for exercising their right to be paid properly and one employee was allegedly terminated for not signing an unlawful waiver form seeking to authorize the employer to take more than $1,000 worth of meal, lodging and transportation deductions per month when the employee was making almost half the minimum wage. Another employee was allegedly fired when he brought his concern to the employer about not being paid the minimum wage.

The employees were also allegedly housed in unsuitable conditions in a rooming house owned by the former owner of the Grand China Buffet and New York Chinese Buffet in Taunton. At one point, four employees allegedly shared one bedroom and approximately 13 people shared the house. The employees were allegedly not free to come and go as they pleased from the rooming house and were dependent on a manager to allow them in. A number of the restaurants' employees had allegedly been hired upon being transported to the state and provided a phone number to call.

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