Feds: Riverhead restaurant owes $160K to underpaid employees


Crystal Garden Buffet in Riverhead has agreed to pay back a dozen employees more than $160,000 combined over the next year-and-a-half after failing to comply with federal labor laws.

The restaurant’s owners Cheung Chi Lam and Shao Qin Lin, managers Xin Xiang Pan and Yin Kam Lam, as well as LLP Rest Inc, the corporation that owns Crystal Garden Buffet, and the company’s president, Chan K Lam, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act after failing to pay its workers minimum wages and overtime, according to the consent judgement filed Sunday in the Eastern District Court of New York.

The restaurant, located on Route 58, also failed to maintain adequate employee work and payroll records, the judgement reads.

A phone message left with an employee late Wednesday night seeking comment from the owners wasn’t immediately returned.

The company has agreed to pay $103,735 in overtime, $2,715 in minimum wages and $53,225 in damages, according to the judgement, and is expected to pay $3,696 in civil penalties and a total of $1,377 in interest.

According to filings by the U.S. Department of Labor, a payment plan was set up to get the grand total back in the hands of those who originally earned the funds. The restaurant paid nearly $32,000 up front, and will pay about $5,500 per month through January 2016.

Crystal Garden Buffet is one of seven Long Island restaurants that have agreed to pay a total of almost $1.7 million in back wages and damages owed to employees, according to Newsday.

“The violations found during these investigations are, unfortunately, all too common in this industry,” Irv Miljoner, director of the Long Island office of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour division, told Newsday. “We plan to continue our enforcement effort in the Asian restaurant sector and other types of restaurants where underpayment cheats both employers and workers who follow the law.”

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