Korean restaurant owner convicted of exploiting employees

Kum Gang San restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. Photo via Google.

Kum Gang San restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. Photo via Google.

By Phineas Rueckert 

A Korean restaurant owner in Flushing, convicted of underpaying and denying overtime to employees, is in more hot water after a panel of judges found that he attempted to circumvent paying out the $2.7 million judgement by transferring properties to family members. 

Ji Sung Yoo, the owner of the restaurant Kum Gang San, was found guilty of wage theft in 2014. One former employee alleged that Yoo forced bussers to work 20-hour days without overtime pay. Yoo also reportedly forced them to do other denigrating tasks without receiving any overtime, such as mowing his grass, shoveling snow in his driveway, and picking cabbage at his friend’s farm on their day off.  

In March 2015, Yoo was asked to pay $2.7 million dollars in back wages and damages to the former workers. In order to avoid paying the judgement, Yoo allegedly transferred several properties — in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan — to family members, which allowed him to claim he was insolvent and couldn’t pay out the judgement.

Yoo has since filed, and subsequently lost, two appeals in the Second Circuit Appeals Court — with the most recent coming on June 6.

“Too often, low wage immigrant workers can obtain a back-pay award in court but have no means to enforce judgment to collect from dishonest employers,” Jackson Chin, Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said in a statement earlier this month. 

On June 18, Yoo and his family faced a civil contempt hearing, which never took place according to Kenneth Kimmerling, the Legal Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who was contacted by the Eagle

“It’s been resolved — that’s all I can say,” Kimmerling said of the case.