Next time you see your friendly neighborhood food delivery person weaving in and out of traffic on a bicycle like Kevin Bacon in the eighties classic Quicksilver, take heart in knowing that those culinary daredevils have access to the civil justice system.
Case in point: a federal judge recently awarded $4.6 million in back pay and damages to 36 delivery workers at two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan, finding “blatant and systematic violations of minimum-wage and overtime laws” from 1999 through 2007.
Reportedly, the Saigon Grill and its owners “paid $520 a month to many deliverymen who worked more than 260 hours each month. This meant their pay came to less than $2 an hour, far less than the federal and state minimum wage.”
Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger also found that the company often “illegally deducted pay — from $20 to $200 — when deliverymen [all of whom were immigrants from the Fujian province of China] committed infractions like letting the restaurant door slam on their way out or failing to log in a delivery.”
“I’m very, very happy about this decision,” said deliveryman Yu Guan Ke, who said he plans to use his portion of the award to help buy health insurance for his family.
Josephine Lee, an organizer for an immigrant worker advocacy group called Justice Will Be Served, said that as a result of the Saigon Grill case, “many restaurants have already started to pay their deliverymen much better.”