Lawsuit filed against employment agencies, restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against three unlicensed employment agencies and two suburban Chinese buffet-style restaurants alleging violations of the US Civil Rights Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act and the state’s minimum wage law in their treatment of immigrant Latino workers.
The lawsuit alleges the employment agencies target Latino workers and act as central suppliers for Chinese buffet-style restaurants that consistently underpay these workers, discriminate against them based on their race and national origin, and house them in substandard conditions.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 12 in federal court against the following employment agencies and their owners: Xing Ying Employment Agency (aka Shun Ying Employment Agency); Jiao’s Employment Agency; and Chinatown Agencia de Empleo (aka China Employment Agency). Two restaurants that worked with the employment agencies to hire Latino workers, Hibachi Sushi Buffet and Hibachi Grill Buffet, are also named as defendants. It alleges the employment agencies and their restaurant clients collectively set the wage rate as low as $3.50 an hour for each Latino worker referred, below Illinois’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, and that the agencies charge commissions and fees of $120 to $220 for each worker, as well as fees for lodging and transportation, which the restaurants then typically deducted from a worker’s paycheck.
Madigan’s complaint also claims the three unlicensed employment agencies unlawfully market their ability to provide Latino workers in newspaper advertisements that make explicit references to workers’ race and national origin.
The lawsuit is a joint effort between Madigan’s Civil Rights Bureau and her newly formed Workplace Rights Bureau.