New Haven rally lauds judge’s order to pay $170,000 to former Gourmet Heaven workers

Advocates Thursday rallied downtown in support of a federal judge’s decision to award more than $170,000 in damages to six immigrant workers following a lawsuit that claimed they worked for as little as $3 an hour.

News Story (Connecticut)

Esteban L. Hernandez
New Haven Register
December 1, 2016

Tags: Employment, Workers Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: New Haven Legal Assistance Association (CT)


According to court documents, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant on Tuesday ruled in favor of the six plaintiffs and awarded $175,664.24 in total damages. The decision was made in federal court in Hartford. The plaintiff’s claim alleged the store and its owners, Chung Cho, and manager, Yong Cho, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act. The lawsuit was initially announced in September 2014.

The violations led to Chung Cho being charged with criminal wage payment violations in February 2014. He was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a lenient form of probation, on condition he paid back wages owed. Court documents show Cho paid money owed to all plaintiffs by April 2015.

Attorney James Bhandary-Alexander of New Haven Legal Assistance Association represented the six plaintiffs, some who are no longer in New Haven. Bhandary-Alexander said Bryant’s decision is a “total victory for the community.”

While the money awarded is important, Bhandary-Alexander said, the decision upholds the workers’ right to protest against their employers without retaliation. Workers were fired for participating in the federal investigation, Bhandary-Alexander said.