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Labor

Justice: it’s what’s for dinner. In what is being called the “first criminal conviction of its kind” in California, Zihan Zhang, the owner of San Diego, California-based Antique Thai Cuisine has been convicted and sentenced to two years’ jail time for grand theft and labor violations.

Testimony from one worker who had worked 12 days in a row, plus doubles, included video footage in which Zhang is seen firing the worker after she asked about the money she was owed.

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su announced the conviction Monday, saying in part that a joint investigation between the Labor Commission and the San Diego District Attorney’s office “uncovered egregious wage theft and worker abuse…” which included paying some workers as little as $4 an hour, charging them $5 per shift for “glass breakage,” targeting immigrant workers who were promised wages but paid only in tips (a portion of which Zhang collected), and denying them meal periods and breaks.

Testimony from one worker who had worked 12 days in a row, plus doubles, included video footage in which Zhang is seen firing the worker after she asked about the money she was owed.

The Labor Commissioner’s office received wage claims from some Antique Thai workers back in 2014, which resulted at the time in more than $72,000 worth of assessments (more than $22,000 of which were civil penalties) to Zhang for rest and meal period premiums and overtime. As part of this conviction, she will be required to pay $20,000 to six workers whose wages and tips she stole. Needless to say, service at Antique Thai Cuisine has been disrupted–forever.

Kate Cox

Kate Cox is editor of the New Food Economy. In her former life, she was a freelance health policy reporter for radio and text. Follow her @thekatecox