Workers at Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Grill have gone on strike - and have also been locked out by the owners - for over two weeks. Now, the workers have filed a lawsuit against Saigon Grill for a wide range of labor violations.
According to the Justice Will Be Served, the group that is working with the workers: "The owners demanded workers sign an illegal contract, stating that they have received minimum wage, even though they received less than $2 an hour. The owners [Simon and Michelle Nget] told them not to come back when the delivery workers refused to lie." They allegedly also offered a deal: $20 pay for a half-day's work of 5.5 hours or $35 for a full twelve-hour day. This was of course rejected. Some more claims: "Delivery workers are charged heavy fines for late deliveries, regardless of harsh weather conditions, and are sent to unsafe areas. The statement also says that when they are robbed or injured on the job, they must cover medical costs as well as the expense of the lost orders."
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund also said, "These delivery men were terribly exploited and mistreated by Saigon Grill. The restaurant paid them a fixed amount each month, with most of the workers earning between $1.70 an hour and $2.45 an hour—well below minimum wage. While their customers sometimes tipped them well, their bosses fined them $50 for ‘slamming’ the restaurant door, which they would then have to pay out of their tips at the end of the day.”
NY Magazine noted that local politicians are supporting the restaurant workers: Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer says restaurant delivery conditions are a "dirty little secret that needs to get exposed."
The restaurant has been forced to stop delivery service because all of the workers at their two locations - on University Place and on Amsterdam Avenue - have refused to work and many are picketing every day.
Photograph from the Village Voice