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Discrimination Lawsuit Filed By Chinese Kitchen Workers

Thirteen Chinese kitchen employees who worked at Midtown restaurant Le Colonial are suing their former employer for race discrimination in the workplace and retaliation. The civil rights violation lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

“This New York discrimination lawsuit should send a message to employers about the consequences of mistreating employees on the basis of race,” said David Perecman. “Workers are increasingly realizing that they have a right to complain and take legal action. They are also realizing that the courts listen to them and take their civil rights seriously.”

The former Le Colonial workers claimed they had to work under harsh conditions. They were “not allowed into air-conditioned areas during their breaks, and were restricted to one bathroom,” according to the complaint.

As reported by Thomson Reuters, the restaurant workers also asserted they were forced to take meal breaks in bathroom stalls and stand for 10 hours a day in excessive heat. A cook was told that his food was “cooked for animals,” and a 61-year-old employee with a back problem was “forced to stand.”

“Under New York workplace laws it is illegal to mistreat employees because of their national origin, race or religion. This is exactly what Le Colonial is being accused of,” said Perecman.

After the group “repeatedly” complained to their employer, they were fired, said The Gothamist. The website also reported that the restaurant “did not have a system” for handling discrimination complaints.

The law protects employees who complain of harassment or discrimination in the workplace from suffering retaliation. Retaliation can take the form of bad performance evaluations, an unwanted transfer, demotion, unfavorable job assignments and, even, termination.

According to Our Chinatown, a New York City community website, the workers’ main allegation is that their employers “discriminated against them based on race and age and that they sought reprisals after they spoke out.”

The workers range in age from 30 to 60.

Both age discrimination and race discrimination in the workplace are illegal under Federal, New York State and New York City law. Race discrimination involves treating an individual unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race. Age discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfavorably because of his or her age.

In addition to the state complaint, the employees plan to file a federal lawsuit against the New York restaurant for wage violations, according to Reuters.

Individuals who believe they have been victims of workplace discrimination in New York because of age, race, sex, religion, national origin or disability may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages or any damages resulting from the discrimination, including emotional distress.

New York civil rights violation lawyers at The Perecman Firm have years of experience in the investigation, negotiation and litigation of discrimination claims in the workplace and elsewhere. An experienced New York workplace discrimination lawyer understands how to present a winning case.


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