Trouble is brewing for Hollywood’s Shin Korean BBQ and its long list of celebrity investors after two ex-employees filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming the restaurant denied them overtime wages, not paying for rest and meal periods, and for not adhering to the set minimum wage. Chances are the real heat of this legal action will be felt by owner Simon Shin, but it’s his famous partners in the venture who are most likely to taste the media’s fire.
Yes, America, we know. It’s very appropriate and funny that L.A. has a whole slew of glossy Hollywood restaurants that count stars of That 70s Show as investors (somebody clearly gave these kids sound advice to get their money into hospitality). Named in the suit are the sitcom’s stars, Laura Prepon and Danny Masterson, as well as Chris Masterson of Malcolm in the Middle. Celebrity D.J. Steve Aoki (the son of Benihana’s founder) and promoter Mark Ronson, as well as 300 star Gerard Butler, are also defendants in the suit, though we doubt any of them handle the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.
According to Reuters, the former employees, a cook and dishwasher, argue that they were never paid overtime while working over 40 hours a week, were denied their expected breaks, and were not even allowed a half-hour to eat. These kinds of restaurant labor abuses are rampant in L.A., and the suit seeks not only to recover damages for the plaintiffs, but also to punish the owners for their oversight and enforce "important rights affecting the public interest." In other words, these stars will be made examples of for abusing "the help."
So far, the actor’s have not released a statement or made comment about the legal matter. But many of these same 70s actors are also partners in the Dolce Group, which operates Hollywood’s Geisha House, among other clubby restaurant ventures, and is dealing with its own internal lawsuits over some twisted and steamy financial shenanigans.
If these star-powered partnerships are actually stiffing their staff, let’s just hope it means Heidi Montag is working long unpaid hours washing dishes at the Lemon Basket until they change their ways.