The California Labor Commissioner’s Office reports that it has settled with the owners of the Burma Ruby Burmese Cuisine and Rangoon Ruby Burmese Cuisine restaurant chains in the Bay Area for $4 million in a wage theft investigation. The settlement covers 380 workers at several restaurants.
Wage theft charges
Wage theft charges can include several different violations by an employer. In this case, the charges include failure to pay overtime, minimum wage and split shift premiums, as well as an additional charge regarding sick leave penalties for 82 workers. Workers complained to the Labor Commissioner's office, sparking the investigation in 2018. The restaurant will pay the settlement in three payments.
In California, overtime laws require an employer to pay employees 1.5 times their pay rate for any time worked over eight hours in one day or over 40 hours in one week. They must pay double time for time worked over 12 hours in one day. Different rules apply to some domestic and agricultural workers, but these standard rules apply to the restaurant workers at issue in this case. The investigation found that the restaurants denied overtime pay to workers. Specifically, the employers put the cooks on a fixed salary, then made them work about 10 hours per week of unpaid overtime.
Minimum wage laws
The minimum wage for California was $11.00 per hour in 2018 for employers with 26 more employees, but was higher for many cities in the Bay Area. In California, employers cannot count tips as part of the minimum hourly wage, which the investigation found was happening in this case.
California also requires an employer to pay an extra hour of minimum wage any day that they schedule an employee to work a split shift, called a split shift premium. These restaurants were not paying that premium to their employees.
California has strong legal protections for employees. You work hard for your pay. If you think your employer is denying you pay or benefits, you may want to report the violations or bring a wage theft claim.