Burma Superstar, more commonly known for its long lines and tea leaf salads, is now the focus of a lawsuit filed by both current and former workers. The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant, which has locations in Oakland, Alameda and San Francisco, has not been properly compensating employees— that includes stiffing them on wages, overtime, paid breaks, and sick days.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday, September 8 on the behalf of three employees, and about 100 "similarly situated" workers, reports The Chronicle; attorneys from the Asian Law Caucus, Legal Aid Society — Employment Law Center, and Centro Legal de la Raza filed the lawsuit, and are seeking class-action status.
Restaurateurs Desmond Htunlin and Jocelyn Lee currently operate five restaurants, including three Burma Superstars, B*Star, and Burma Love in the Mission; there is a sixth, unnamed restaurant planned for Mid-Market.
Eater SF has reached out for comments; stay tuned for more developments.
UPDATED, September 15 at 10:15 a.m.:
A statement has been released from Nathan Ballard, founder of a local crisis communications firm, on behalf of Burma Superstar:
Since its founding in 1992, Burma Superstar has always been dedicated to the welfare, happiness, and success of its employees.
The owners value their team as an extension of their family, and strive to treat everyone with the utmost respect, providing good wages and excellent benefits – well beyond what is required by federal, state and city laws. For six years now they have provided health care to employees. And many of Burma Superstar's employees have been with the company since the opening of the restaurants.
This frivolous lawsuit is based on false allegations. Burma Superstar will be totally exonerated and will prevail in court.
Meanwhile, East Bay Express has spoken with a workera named a plaintiff in the lawsuit, who said that "Burma Superstar owners owe him and more than one-hundred other employees back wages." William Navarette, a dishwasher and cook, described an alleged violation in which owner Desmond Tan withheld paychecks, which he kept as a "deposit" that employees would receive only when they stopped working for the restaurant (none of which were ever released). Other allegations include a "nonstop and brutal work environment" with no breaks, as well as paying hourly employees salaries in order to dodge overtime payments.
Burma Superstar itself has not commented, though crisis communications seem to be in full effect. Stay tuned for updates on this story.
- Burma Superstar Kitchen Workers Sue Popular Bay Area Chain [SFGate]
- All Coverage of Burma Superstar [ESF]
- Former Employee Who is Suing Burma Superstar: 'It Was Complete Madness' [EBX]