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Sunny,44°
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Labor Department: Merrick eatery underpaid workers
(Page 2 of 2)
Donovan Berthoud/Herald Life
Xaga Sushi, at 217 Merrick Road in Merrick, and its sister restaurant of the same name at 1330 Broadway in Hewlett, paid their employees less than minimum wage and no overtime, among other labor law violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The restaurant and its owner, Mei Yu Zhang, has agreed to pay more than $288,000 in back wages, damages and civil penalties.

Zhang “has been very cooperative with the U.S. Labor Department,” Chan said. “The U.S. Labor Department was very impressed, too … so they had reduced their fines to a minimum.”

Chan also disputed the DOL’s charge that Xaga employees were paid less than minimum wage. “The employees, they exceed minimum wage,” Chan said. “Everyone exceeds minimum wage. I think the average [comes] out to be, like, $15 an hour. But it’s just because Ms. Zhang did not keep time records; rather, she paid them weekly. But that’s not compliant with the Labor Department law, because we have to pay them hourly … That was a mistake. Now they’re hourly.”

Chan added that she does not believe the Labor Department does enough outreach to educate first-time business owners about labor laws. She said that, in her opinion, its decision to publicize Zhang’s case was unwarranted, given her client’s level of cooperation.

“It’s really not good,” Chan said, “because if someone had made a mistake, and they already corrected it, you should give them a chance.”

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