A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea Of Queens Employer Who Failed To Pay Minimum Wage

Owner of Queens Catering Hall to Pay over $450,000 Restitution To Workers Who Were Paid as Little as $2 An Hour

Company Filed False Quarterly State Tax Returns, Failing to List All Employees to Avoid Paying Unemployment Insurance Taxes

QUEENS- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Charles Cha, the President and owner of Millenium Dae Dong, Inc. doing business as Dae Dong Manor, a Queens restaurant and catering hall, for failing to pay 20 workers the minimum wage and retaliating against employees who filed complaints with the New York State Department of Labor. In addition, the employer filed a false quarterly tax return with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to avoid paying unemployment insurance taxes. As part of his plea, Mr. Cha will pay $450,000 in unpaid wages, interest and penalties, and another $27,959.88 in Unemployment Insurance taxes and related interest and penalties.

"My office will not tolerate employers who rip off their workers," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Wage theft and tax evasion are serious crimes and this employer will be held accountable for shortchanging workers and the taxpaying public. We will bring the full force of the law down upon employers who violate the rights of hardworking New Yorkers."

The company pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law Section 175.35, a class "E" felony, and Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, under Labor Law Section 198-a, an unclassified misdemeanor. Mr. Cha pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, in violation of Penal Law Section 175.30, a class "A" misdemeanor; one count of Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, under Labor Law Section 198-a, an unclassified misdemeanor; and one count of Retaliation, under Labor Law Section 215, a class "B" misdemeanor.

In addition to paying $450,000 in unpaid wages, interest and penalties, and another $27,959.88 in Unemployment Insurance and related interest and penalties, the defendants will undergo three years of monitoring of their employment practices by the Attorney General's Office.

An investigation by the New York State Department of Labor revealed, and Mr. Cha admitted, that during the period from January 2007 to July 2010, the defendants paid waiters daily rates of just $25-40 per day, regardless of how many hours they worked, and that the waiters often had to work more than 12 hours per day, resulting in hourly rates of only $2 per hour, or even lower. In addition, managers kept a portion of the waiters' tips, which is unlawful because only employees who serve the public may receive a portion of tips. Mr. Cha, as President and owner of the restaurant, oversaw the day to day operation of the business, and personally supervised the payment of all employees.

Employers must pay employees the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and overtime at one and one half times the employee's regular rate for hours worked past forty in a given week. There is a slightly lower minimum wage for employees who regularly receive tips, but only when certain specific conditions are met. It is unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers for reporting labor law violations to the government.

The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Labor for its cooperation in this matter.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Meredith McGowan, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Section Chief Felice Sontupe, Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.

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