Two former workers at a popular Minneapolis restaurant have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor, alleging that Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine owes thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and overtime pay.
The complaints allege that Francisco Sanchez and Raymundo Morena worked as much as 71 hours a week, but were paid no more than $1,600 a month.
Both employees worked in the restaurant's kitchen, according to the complaints.
The Workers' Interfaith Network, a local non-profit coalition of labor unions and religious groups, assisted the workers with filing the complaints in April. The group plans to hold a protest at the restaurant tomorrow.
The restaurant's manager declined to comment, but provided a brief remark from the owner, Chang Tong Xu. "He's going to let the legal process run its course because that's what we do in the United States and that mob mentality does not rule," said the manager, who declined to provide his name.
The Workers' Interfaith Network has sent at least two letters to Peninsula. The letters state that Peninsula owes $8,671.50 to Sanchez and $9,362.73 to Morena.
In July, the group sent a letter to the restaurant stating that the workers would settle for $8,000 each.
According to Brian Payne, an organizer with the Workers' Interfaith Network, the restaurant agreed to provide each worker with $1,000, but the workers refused the offer.
"They essentially brushed us off," Payne said, speaking about the restaurant's management.
In his complaint, Sanchez reports that he worked at the restaurant from about March 2007 to October 2007, and again from about September 2008 to November 2008.
During that time, he said he worked 71 hours per week. For the first month, Sanchez said he was paid $600 twice a month, including a $500 check and $100 cash. For the rest of his employment, Sanchez said he received $750 twice a month, including a $500 check and $250 cash.
"At this rate, we earned much less than minimum wage and no overtime," Sanchez wrote.
In Morena's complaint, he reports working at the restaurant for about eleven months, from May 2008 to March 2009. Morena said he worked about 68 hours per week, and was initially paid $700 twice per month, including $500 in a check and $200 cash.
Morena said he later received a slight increase in pay, to $800 twice per month.
Morena also alleged that the restaurant falsified the paystubs of his son and cousin, who worked as busboys. "In their paychecks, the company claims they receive a certain amount in tips paid in cash, but they never received the tips," he wrote.
Payne said that Workers' Interfaith Network will continue to protest at the restaurant until the company agrees to "fair negotiations" with the former employees.
The group has helped workers to recover over $300,000 in unpaid wages since its founding two years ago, Payne said.