Logo for Dept of industrial relations California state seal.
Release Number: 2019-10
January 22, 2019

Labor Commissioner’s Office Reaches $4 Million Settlement for 380 Bay Area Restaurant Workers

San Francisco—The Labor Commissioner’s Office has reached a $4 million settlement with the owners of a Bay Area Burmese restaurant chain to repay 298 workers identified in a wage theft investigation last year.

After working with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, the Burmese chain agreed to pay the settlement in three payments. The first payment was received on January 11 and the final payment is due by the end of the year. The settlement includes payment to an additional 82 workers for paid sick leave penalties.

“Workers deserve to be paid for their labor, and this settlement puts the earned wages back in their pockets,” said California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su. “This is a testament to these workers standing up for their rights.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office last June issued wage assessments and penalties of $4.96 million to Burma Ruby Burmese Cuisine in Palo Alto and Rangoon Ruby Burmese Cuisine with restaurants in Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Carlos, Burlingame and Belmont. The wage theft violations and civil penalties included failure to pay minimum wage, overtime and split shift premiums.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched the investigation after receiving complaints from workers who reported wage theft to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, which also represented many of the workers who cooperated in the investigation.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office is mailing notification to the current and former restaurant workers of their expected settlement payments. The underpaid cooks will receive an average settlement payment of $35,659 and front of the house staff will be paid an average of $2,629 for the wage theft suffered. The settlement includes $61,211 in civil penalties payable to the state.

The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, combats wage theft and conducts on-site inspections to investigate and enforce compliance with minimum wage and other California labor laws. Its wide-ranging responsibilities include public works enforcement, retaliation complaint investigations, licensing and registration, as well as multilingual labor law education and outreach for workers and employers.

In 2014, the Labor Commissioner’s Office under Julie A. Su’s leadership launched the Wage Theft is a Crime multilingual public awareness campaign. The campaign defines wage theft and informs workers of their rights and the resources available to them to recover unpaid wages or report other labor law violations.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).

Members of the press may contact Peter Melton or Lucas Brown at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR’s press releases or other departmental updates.