(This story has been updated with more specifics about the federal complaint. The Flushing Workers Center says this is a discrimination complaint and not a complaint about back wages, as we originally reported.)
A federal complaint has been filed against a Flushing, New York restaurant accused of discriminating against members of the union who demanded back wages, according to the Flushing Workers Center.
Details of the complaint against New Shi Lin Xiang, which has also operated under the names Wan Hao Xuan and Mei Shi Lin, were released at a news conference Thursday.
Members of 318 Restaurant Workers Union filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Mei Shi Lin of failing to pay minimum wage and overtime. They also cooperated with a Department of Labor investigation into the restaurant. When the restaurant reopened as Wan Hao Xuan, the workers alleged boss Xian Wen Yang discriminated against them and refused to hire them because of their activism. They says another boss, Xaio Long Hu, repeated that discrimination when the restaurant changed its name again to Shi Lin Xiang. The complaint states that Shi Lin Xiang and Wan Hao Xuan are the same business.
“We are overjoyed with the complaint by the National Labor Relations Board,” said Jian Bin Chen, a former Mei Shi Lin worker. “We worked very hard and saw our boss steal our wages. When we finally got fed up and took action, the boss closed down the restaurant. We shouldn’t be discriminated against just because we spoke up for our rights. We demand reinstatement and compensation. We want to set a good example here and encourage more workers to stand up for their rights.”
The Flushing Workers Center says the practice of closing businesses only to reopen them under a different name has become more common as a way to avoid paying back wages.
“This victory shows if workers come together and take a stand, we can win.” said Sarah Ahn of the Flushing Workers Center. “We can hold them accountable. More workers should come forward to demand their back pay and join in our effort to change the law so that bosses can’t so easily change names and transfer their assets.”
A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for December 5th.
The National Labor Relations Board declined to answer questions from AsAmNews. Instead, they requested that we file a Freedom of Information Act request, which we have done.
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