Samba Steak and Sushi - China Gourmet - DOL

Samba Steak and Sushi – China Gourmet – DOL

Federal Court Forbids Framingham Restaurants, Owner From Threatening Workers During US Department of Labor Investigation and Litigation.

Samba Steak and Sushi, and China Gourmet allegedly violated overtime and recordkeeping rules.

BOSTON, MA (STL.News) Samba Steak and Sushi – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has obtained a consent preliminary injunction and order in federal court forbidding a Framingham restaurant, Samba Steak and Sushi and its owner from threatening or retaliating against employees and interfering with the department’s ongoing litigation.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division began investigating Samba Steak and Sushi and China Gourmet in late 2022 to determine whether they were in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The division’s findings led the department to file suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that Samba, its sister restaurant, China Gourmet, and owners, Shi Yun Zhang and Risheng Xu, violated the FLSA by not paying proper overtime compensation and keeping records of workers’ pay and hours.

The complaint also alleges that Samba and its owner retaliated against employees who engaged in protected conduct under the FLSA.  The retaliation, begun during the department’s investigation, includes discouraging employees from speaking with division investigators and having employees sign records that misrepresented the hours employees worked.  The department also alleges that Samba and Zhang retaliated against employees by demanding that they provide Social Security cards under threat of being fired.

The preliminary injunction specifically prohibits Samba and Zhang from doing the following:

  • Firing employees or reducing their hours or pay without first providing one week’s notice to the department and the affected workers as to the non-retaliatory business justification for the termination and/or reduction of wages or hours.
  • Demanding immigration-related documents or information from employees, including but not limited to Social Security cards or numbers, employment authorization documents, visas, passports, or driver’s licenses.
  • Instructing or otherwise communicating to employees not to speak to department representatives or to provide false information about their work hours, pay, or other terms and conditions of their employment.

The injunction also requires Samba Steak and Sushi and Zhang to post and provide workers with a notice of their FLSA rights and allow division representatives to read the notice to workers during paid working hours.

Read the consent preliminary injunction and order.

In investigations of these restaurants in 2020, the division found widespread wage and recordkeeping violations and reached settlements in which the restaurants paid more than $250,000 in back wages and promised future FLSA compliance.

“The preliminary injunction in this case ensures that Samba’s workers can stand up for their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act without the fear of negative consequences.  Importantly, the court’s order specifically bars Samba and Zhang from demanding any immigration-related information from employees because those employees engaged in FLSA protected activity,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston.  “The U.S. Department of Labor will work tirelessly to ensure that employers do not use threats, including immigration-related threats, to prevent workers from asserting their workplace rights.”

“To gather information to determine whether or not an employer is complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Wage and Hour Division needs to communicate freely and confidentially with employees.  The FLSA guarantees that employees can speak with investigators and cooperate in investigations and litigation without the fear that their employer will threaten, penalize or act against them,” said the division’s District Director Carlos Matos in Boston.



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