Restaurant accused of not following new minimum wage law

Posted at: 03/04/2013 10:41 PM
Updated at: 03/05/2013 10:05 AM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

KOB Eyewitness News 4 was first to report on an Albuquerque malt shop that wasn’t paying its workers the new minimum wage.

Now, it looks like a well-known Vietnamese restaurant in southeast Albuquerque may not be following the rules either.

Maybe it’s a language barrier or just plain bad business practice at hand.

Two women claim, not only are they not getting paid the new minimum wage, they actually have to give money back because their employer thinks they’re being overpaid.

"They’re not paying us what the state, not the state, Albuquerque says we should get paid,” claims restaurant server, Tiffany Sorensen.

Sorensen is leveling strong allegations against her employer: Vietnam Restaurant 2000 on San Mateo Boulevard.

Sorensen and another employee claim the restaurant has fishy business practices like the notebook paper that keeps track of hours and wages.

Sorensen claims the restaurant’s owner or bookkeeper write down a wage of $3.83 an hour on their timecards just to make it look like they’re complying with the city’s new minimum wage for tipped employees. Then the owner tells employees they were overpaid and owe money.

“The only way to get my check is to pay back the owner the difference from how the bookkeeper paid me, because [the restaurant] is paying me $2.50 [an hour, plus tips] and the bookkeeper is paying 3.83 [an hour, plus tips]," she said.

We went looking for the owner, but no one wanted to admit they are the owner.

“No, I am not owner. He have another store,” said Trang Le.

Le said we could find the owner at the restaurant’s second location on Constitution.

A man who didn’t want to say his name or position came forward.

When asked repeatedly if he’s paying Albuquerque’s new minimum wage, he simply replied:

“No comment.”

We went back and found Trang Le in the restaurant’s parking lot.

She denied being the owner although both employees say she is the owner.

Le says she’s just a waitress and that the owner is in Arizona.

When asked if she is paid $3.83 an hour, she replied:

“Yeah, [owner] paid for me 3.83 plus tips from January First."

Late in the night, during our interview with Sorensen, her phone rang.

It was a man from the restaurant calling to offer her “$3.83 an hour plus tips.”

"Is it because the city's getting involved,” she asked.

The man denied that was the reason.

But it just might be.

We told the restaurant earlier in the day, the city attorney’s office is looking into allegations brought forward by another employee.

The city will send a letter demanding the restaurant abide by the new minimum wage.

If it doesn’t, the city attorney’s office says it will consider its options.