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Kitchen staff claim wage and hour laws violated, seek back pay

The popular out-of-state restaurant Burma Superstar is known to most for its delicious food, but more recent headlines apparently shine a light on some unfavorable business practices. According to kitchen staff, the restaurant's owners have been violating wage and hour laws. A lawsuit filed on behalf of kitchen workers alleges that the restaurant failed to properly pay its employees while also denying them other basic rights, including breaks and overtime pay.

Kitchen workers in Massachusetts are often referred to as back-of-house workers, and their hard work behind-the-scenes is usually what helps keep restaurants running smoothly. Workers involved in the class-action suit against Burma Superstar allege that they were not fairly compensated for their work. Many workers claim that they were so severely underpaid that they did not even earn minimum wage.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center filed a report that the area in which the Burma Superstar operates has the largest pay gap based on the race of workers. This gap could also explain the kitchen workers' stance, as African American workers are hired to work back-of-house jobs far more often than they are for front-of-house positions, such as waiters. Front-of-house positions have the added benefit of tips from customers, which can help make up for low wages.

The suit seeks back pay from the restaurant in addition to compensation for other penalties and attorney fees. However, former employees are not the only ones who might benefit. When wronged workers successfully navigate their claim to completion, Massachusetts employers might be more likely to adhere to wage and hour laws, benefiting both current and future kitchen workers.

Source: eastbayexpress.com, "Burma Superstar Kitchen Staff Sue Bay Area Chain Over Wage Violations", Winston Cho, Sept. 9, 2016

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