Popular Restaurant Accused of Shorting Workers on Overtime

U.S. Dept. of Labor says Chan Dara denied overtime, kept improper records

Chan Dara is one of the most popular Thai-fusion restaurants in Los Angeles, but the U.S. Department of Labor says its owners violated labor laws by not paying overtime to its workers.

The Labor Department has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of 31 Chan Dara employees who work at restaurant locations in West Los Angeles and Larchmont Village.

The lawsuit claims the workers were denied overtime pay totaling about $100,000 between 2009 and 2011.

Kimchi Bui from the U.S. Department of Labor's Los Angeles office says workers who complained about the overtime policy were fired, and that financial records were doctored.

“The restaurant workers are vulnerable because they are low wage workers," said Bui. "These are the people that are bussing our tables, cooking meals and often are not paid correctly.”

NBC LA efforts to reach Chan Dara managers for reaction Tuesday night were unsuccessful. 

The Department of Labor says most restaurant customers want to see workers treated fairly, and there is a new app for phones and IPads that can help consumers find out if businesses have been responsible for labor violations.

The app, called "eat, shop, sleep," lets workers file complaints, as well.

One Chan Dara customer told NBC4 reporter Angie Crouch that  he wishes he had known about the app before visiting Chan Dara in West Los Angeles.

"If i had known, we would have gone somewhere else," said Ian Chisholm. "I don’t want to support a place that’s not going to pay their people.”

At this point, it's still an allegation.

A federal court judge will decide whether Chan Dara violated labor laws. If the judge finds against the restaurant, owners may have be pay back wages and a $10,000 fine.

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