HomeChinese AmericanUtah's 'Chinatown Supermarket' pays back wages and damages
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Utah’s ‘Chinatown Supermarket’ pays back wages and damages

Following enforcement action by the federal Department of Labor, Utah’s largest Asian grocer has paid over $500,000 in back pay and damages to 148 workers.

The investigation found that the supermarket underreported hours worked, limiting it to 80 hours per pay period, and failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime, reported Fox13.

An order signed in April required Chinatown Supermarket to pay $251,305 in back wages and an equal amount in damages and civil penalties.

The supermarket has also been put under a preliminary injunction, as the Department of Labor accuses it of attempting to obstruct the investigation. The preliminary injunction will last until the conclusion of the department’s lawsuit.

According to the DOL’s press release, Chinatown Supermarket LLC, the parent company of the supermarket in question, and Chinatown Wholesale LLC, a grocery wholesaler of products imported from Asia, are owned by the same individual, both of which were found to violate labor law.

The 30,000-square-foot store is located in Salt Lake City’s Chinatown. When it was opened in 2011, the shopping center became the state’s first Chinatown since Salt Lake City’s original Plum Street Chinatown was destroyed to make way for a parking garage in 1952.

Unlike the organically developed Chinatowns that survived in other cities, Salt Lake City’s Chinatown is not a mixed-use neighborhood where Asian American families both live and operate their small businesses, but rather an “Asian and Chinese themed shopping and business community,” as described on their website.

Speaking in Denver, the DOL’s Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater explained that “the U.S. Department of Labor will work vigorously to protect workers when employers mistakenly think they can retaliate against them exercising their rights”, and that “the department is dedicated to making sure workers are paid as required by federal law. No employee should fear their employer’s wrath for reporting pay concerns.”

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