Ruby restaurants fined $5 million for alleged wage violations

Burma Ruby on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Photo from Google Streetview
Burma Ruby on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Photo from Google Streetview

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

The restaurants Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby have been fined $4.96 million for wage theft, the state Labor Commissioner’s office announced yesterday (June 7).

Rangoon Ruby operates restaurants in San Carlos, Belmont, Burlingame, San Francisco and Palo Alto at 445 Emerson St. Owners Max and John Lee also own Burma Ruby Burmese Cuisine at 326 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto, three doors west of the Apple store.

The Lees did not return a request for comment.

The fines stem from allegations that the restaurants failed to pay minimum wage, overtime and extra pay for split shifts, when employees are scheduled for multiple work periods on a single day with an unpaid break in between.

After a group of workers reported the wage theft, the office of Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su inspected the restaurants’ payroll records between Nov. 16, 2014, and Nov. 15, 2017. They underpaid 298 workers, according to Su.

The restaurant chain’s 87 cooks were also paid a fixed salary, but typically logged more than 10 hours of unpaid overtime every week.

The cooks are owed $3.8 million for unpaid overtime, minimum wages, split shift wages, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and failure to provide accurate, itemized wage statements, ac- cording to Su.

In total, the Lees owe their 298 workers more than $4.39 million for unpaid wages, premiums, liquidated damages and itemized wage statement violations, plus $574,150 in civil penalties.

Workers who are paid less than minimum wage are entitled to interest and waiting time penalties.

6 Comments

  1. You need to contact the state division of labor standards, but I’d advise against it. I was part of a group of restaurant/hospitality workers who went to this agency. We told them about being forced to work off the clock, not getting breaks when we wanted them etc. it was a big hassle – a real run around. In the end we got nothing. They said that only 1 in 1000 complaints are successful. In hindsight we would have been better off quitting and finding different jobs.

  2. We hired a lawyer. Big mistake. After the complaint was filed, our boss became very hostile. He would write you up for any minor thing. Then one day out of the blue, they closed our restaurant. No final check. It was a waste of time.

  3. If they’ve been hit with a $5 million fine, it will be cheaper for them to shut down and walk away. But the social justice warriors will be able to chalk up another victory! Yippie!

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