Famous Wok Owner to Pay Back Wages and Liquidated Damages for Falsely Claiming to Have Paid Back Wages

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When two Famous Wok restaurant employees in Santa Fe were due back wages based on the findings of a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation, franchise owner Lixin Zhang agreed to pay the workers. Unfortunately, Zhang didn’t keep his promise. Instead, Zhang made them sign the back of blank checks and told departmental investigators that he paid the employees. The workers received nothing.

Investigators followed up to confirm the back wage payment and found that Zhang continued to violate the law by failing to provide overtime pay to employees who worked 72 to 80 hours per week. That’s when the department filed a lawsuit against Zhang to collect back wages. 

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico granted summary judgment against Zhang and ordered him to pay $25,168 and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the employees for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. 

Based on Zhang’s actions, the court granted an injunction to ensure he complies with the law in the future. The court also found that Zhang consistently violated the FLSA for at least the past three years, even after meeting with investigators and agreeing to abide by its terms. He continued to willfully ignore his agreement with federal regulators; attempted to conceal that he had not complied with the law and his agreement by urging employees to lie to the department; and sent erroneous and misleading documentation to the Wage and Hour Division. 

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