Wage theft is a major problem for California workers. Three Thai restaurants in Los Angeles were cited for failing to pay employees more than $1 million in wages.

California labor officials launched investigations into the restaurants—Sanamluang Café, Orchid Thai Cuisine and Orchid Thai—in July and August 2017.

Workers underpaid and given no breaks

The investigations revealed workers at Sanamluang Café were paid $50 a day for 10 to 11.5 hour shifts with no meal or rest breaks. Employees at Orchid Thai Cuisine and Orchid Thai were paid $45 to $50 a day for shifts that were up to 10 hours long. Orchid Thai Cuisine and Orchid Thai also forced workers to complete prep work and clean up, while they were off the clock.

Employees are entitled to overtime pay and breaks

Los Angeles recently raised the minimum wage for workers. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees must pay employees a minimum wage of $12 an hour. Under California law, employees who work more than 10 hours a day are entitled to two meal breaks. Employees that work over five hours can take at least a 30-minute meal break. Working over eight hours and up to 12 hours also entitles California workers to overtime pay, which is one and half times the regular pay rate.

A labor commissioner said all three restaurants exhibited classic signs of wage theft. They forced employees to work long hours with no breaks and paid them below federally required standards.

The restaurants faced large fines

After Sanamluang Café’s initial investigation, the owners continued to violate labor laws. Additional fines were assessed to the restaurant, totaling over $800,000. Orchid Thai Cuisine and Orchid Thai were fined nearly $500,000. Most of the fines paid employees for owed wages.

In California, state and federal officials bring hundreds of wages theft claims against businesses of all sizes and industries. Even mega brands like Oracle and Wells Fargo were cited for wage violations.