NEW YORK A group of current and former employees of Saigon Grill, a popular Vietnamese restaurant with two locations here, were awarded $4.6 million in a wage-and-hour lawsuit they filed against the restaurants.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of 36 employees, had accused Saigon Grill, its owners and managers of failing to pay the workers in compliance with federal and state labor laws over the past 10 years.
In its decision, the court found that Saigon Grill’s owners violated the workers’ rights under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York state labor laws. Additionally, the court found that the defendants illegally retaliated against 22 of those employees by firing them after learning they planned to file a lawsuit. Damages on the retaliation claims are still to be determined.
Furthermore, the court found restaurant founder Simon Nget, his wife, Michelle, and manager Sung Truong individually liable for the labor violations, which included payment of hourly wages well below the minimum wage, fining workers for perceived infractions of restaurant rules, and wage kickbacks in some cases in which employees did not have enough time to perform nondelivery work.
The workers, all Chinese immigrants, were represented by the Davis Polk & Wardwell law firm, which took the case on a pro bono basis.