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(코리아타운뉴스) ‘Overtime Lawsuits’ Turning Brutal

Working 10 minutes after normal work hours
some employees demand overtime pay

A liquor store owner in South L.A., only identified by his last name Oh, recently came across a shocking incident. He was sued by an employee he firmly trusted.

“He was diligent and had a great relationship with me,” Oh said. “I even paid him bonus for holidays, including Christmas. I felt like I’ve been hit in the back of my head when I learned that he filed a lawsuit against me.”

The employee apparently demanded to be paid for working during lunchtime and wrapping up after work, according to Oh. Even though Oh felt that the demands were unjust, he eventually reached a settlement with the employee.

The so-called “overtime lawsuits” are turning brutal, sending a warning to many business owners. As was the case with Oh, some employees are filing lawsuits even for working 10 minutes after the regular work hours to wrap up.
Another liquor store owner, only identified by his last name Kim, also went through a similar incident as one of his employees filed a lawsuit over the times he worked during lunchtime and after normal work hours. The case was later dismissed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Legal experts said that many of the “overtime lawsuits” are filed by employees at smaller businesses, including liquor stores as many of the owners prefer to pay their employees in cash while doing a poor job of organizing their timecards.

Another grocery store owner, only identified by his last name Park, experienced a similar situation.

“I employed him as he was Korean and I trusted him,” said Park. “I later found out that he has been suing his employees by purposely making them hire him. The problem was that I paid him in cash and that I never asked him to fill out his timecards.”

Labor lawyer Hae-won Kim said: “There has to be a concrete proof stating the employees’ mealtimes and overtime work hours. Also, the employees should be left completely alone during lunchtime. A lot of business owners think that it’s fine as long as they pay their employees during their lunchtime, but that is a big mistake.”

Even paid lunchtime does not mean that the business owner has the right to instruct the employee to carry out work duties during lunch.

Kim said: “It’s a common mistake among Korean business owners to ask the employees to have lunch at their work station. Unless you’re running a convenience store or a gas station, doing that could result in forcing an employee to work overtime.”

Korean Groceries and Licensed Beverage Association president Joong-chil Kim said: “We’re hosting seminars on a regular basis to inform the business owners about the legal consequences. We could help anyone immediately if they contact us.”


By Hyunwook Chung



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