Koreans Workers Project Announces Settlements

Posted by AC Team on Friday, 03 November 2006.

Korean Workers Project announces overtime and record-keeping settlements for deli-grocery worker and retail store worker.

Flushing, NYThe Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community, today announced the terms of two significant settlements on behalf of Mr. Park, a deli-grocery store worker, and Mr. Lim, a retail store worker. In both cases, the Korean Workers Project secured satisfactory back wage settlements that additionally require the employers to maintain proper records of their employees hours and wages.

According to a survey AALDEF conducted with low-wage Korean immigrant workers in the New York metro area, approximately three out of four Korean immigrant workers do not receive legally-mandated overtime pay if they are entitled to it.
("Forgotten Workers," April 2006, AALDEF: www.aaldef.org/docs/KWP_2006WorkerSurvey_analysis.pdf.)

We are glad both businesses decided to take the high road by paying these workers their rightful overtime pay. In addition, the settlement enables the Korean Workers Project to work with the businesses to ensure that the businesses keep proper records, pay all wages properly, and do their part to raise workplace standards City-wide. said AALDEF Staff Attorney Steven Choi. Choi represented both Korean immigrant workers in their back wage claims for unpaid overtime and spread-of-hours wages.

Mr. Park, an immigrant from Korea and a resident of Queens, worked the 7 a.m. 7 p.m. graveyard shift at a Manhattan deli-grocery, where he performed cashier, stockroom, and janitorial duties for a fixed cash payment of $75 a day. During the 13 months he worked at the grocery, his employers never paid him the legally-required overtime wages, despite the fact that he often worked up to 72 hours a week. AALDEF filed a lawsuit on his behalf in April 2006, and secured approximately $8,600 in a settlement that was paid in full last month.

Mr. Lim, also an immigrant from Korea and a resident of Queens, worked in a New York metro-area retail store stocking shelves, working as a cashier, and performing security duties for more than 10 hours a day, six days a week over the course of six years. AALDEF contacted the store owners last year to inform them about their failure to pay Mr. Lim overtime, and secured a $13,500 settlement on his behalf this fall.

As part of the settlement agreement, the defendants have agreed to provide proof their compliance with labor laws requiring employers to maintain employment records and to pay their workers properly.

Under New York State law, employers with workers who earn an hourly wage must pay them overtime pay, at 1.5 times the workers hourly pay, for each hour after a worker has worked over 40 hours a week. In addition, workers who work more than 10 hours per day must also be paid spread-of-hours wages, which is an additional hour of pay at the hourly minimum wage ($6.75 in 2006, and $7.15 in 2007) for each of those days. In addition, employers must keep records of their employees regular hours, overtime hours, as well as regular wages and overtime wages.

Attorney Wing-Sze Choi provided pro bono co-counsel in the case of Mr. Park. Im pleased that our joint efforts resulted in a settlement that protects immigrant worker rights and promotes economic justice, she said.

The Korean Workers Project provides direct legal services free of charge to low-wage Korean immigrant workers through AALDEF, in conjunction with YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community. Through community education and outreach, the Korean Workers Project seeks to protect the rights of these Korean immigrant workers and to help them achieve social and economic justice.