Two Bellevue Restaurant Employees Win Lost Wages Lawsuit Against Former Employer
A King County Superior Court jury has decided in favor of two Bellevue restaurant employees who were denied adequate wages and overtime pay, resulting in to date, awards of more than $680,000.
The decision, which the defendants unsuccessfully attempted to appeal, holds a Bellevue, Wash.-based corporation and two of its officers liable for willfully withholding wages from the employees who suffered wage-and-hour abuse while employed at a restaurant owned and managed by the defendants. The jury awarded the employees, who were represented by Schroeter Goldmark & Bender (SGB) attorneys Elizabeth Hanley and Liz McLafferty, all lost wages requested at trial.
Noting that the jury found the defendants’ violations were willful, the court more than doubled the lost wages the jury awarded, adding interest and attorneys’ fees to the damages for a total of $686,274.90. The appellate court has recently authorized an award of additional fees.
According to the lawsuit, Amandeep Gill and Kamaljeet Kaur were employed by Chaat House, a restaurant operated by the defendants. Between 2014 and 2018, the suit states the two routinely worked 60- to 100-hour work weeks but were denied overtime pay and were not adequately provided rest and meal breaks, to which they were legally entitled.
“We simply wanted to be fairly compensated for the long hours we worked,” said Gill. “Filing a lawsuit was a last resort to earn what we were owed, but we are grateful for the opportunity for justice to be served.”
Evidence presented at trial confirmed that the restaurant managers intentionally altered and destroyed timeclock records, refusing to pay the employees wages owed for time they worked.
“The jury’s decision in favor of our clients sends a clear message to employers across our region that wage-and-hour abuse will not be tolerated. Employers who knowingly violate workers’ rights by not fairly compensating them will be held accountable. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to fight for Ms. Gill and Ms. Kaur who are incredibly deserving of this successful outcome,” said Elizabeth Hanley, SGB attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Having recently immigrated to the United States, the employees, who are Washington state citizens, spoke very little English and feared retaliation from their employer, whom they also relied upon for food, housing and transportation.
According to the record, when Ms. Gill and Ms. Kaur approached management to complain about the repeated lack of appropriate breaks and meal times, the employers ultimately responded by terminating their employment. What’s more, the defendants proceeded to file counterclaims against the employees, attempting to sue them for demanding wages commensurate with their hours worked.
“Our clients’ fears of retaliation were substantiated by these defendants who disregarded their employees’ rights and well-being on every level. No worker in Washington should face the treatment our clients endured for simply showing up for a hard day’s work,” said SGB attorney Liz McLafferty.
“We hope that by sharing our story, others won’t have to experience the same abuse we suffered,” said Kaur.
SGB has represented employees against large corporations, government agencies, and small businesses for more than 50 years to protect workers from unfair treatment. In addition to individual cases, the firm is committed to pursuing wage cases on a multi-plaintiff or class-wide basis, as well.
SGB’s employment law attorneys Adam Berger and Elizabeth Hanley also recently settled a class-action lawsuit against Oatridge Security Group for $1.75M. Class members, who worked as security officers across multiple Puget Sound-region venues, claimed the defendants allegedly violated Washington laws related to compensation for security officers and shift leads.
To learn more about what sets SGB employment law attorneys apart, visit www.sgb-law.com/practice-areas/employment-law.