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Oakland Restaurant Owner Faces 16 Counts of Workers’ Rights Violations

Posted on Dec 23, 2013

Ji Li Zheng, owner and operator of Oakland’s Century Buffet, has been charged with 16 felony and misdemeanor counts of labor rights violations—including wage theft, workers’ compensation fraud, payroll tax fraud, and dissuading a witness.

This June, officials from the Alameda County District Attorney and California Labor Commissioner investigated Century Buffet to discover an extensive amount of fraudulent paperwork.

Interviews with employees revealed several other alleged violations of workers’ rights:

  • Employees forced to work 12 to 13 hour shifts 6 days a week with no meal or rest breaks.
  • Several employees paid less than minimum wage in monthly cash payments from Zheng.
  • Some employees paid only in gratuities; others not paid at all.
  • Zheng apparently told employees that investigating state officials were immigration officers, advising them to not discuss working conditions or wages.


According to the Labor Commissioner’s audit, unpaid minimum wage to employees exceeds $520,000 and unpaid overtime exceeds $550,000. Premium pay for refusing to give meal and rest breaks exceeds $191,000—combining for a total of more than $1,112,000 in wage theft alone.

“Ji Li Zheng’s treatment of the workers at his restaurant was unconscionable,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. “In this case and in all matters in which employers abuse the legal rights of their employees, I will remain vigilant in ensuring that the victims are made whole and justice is served.”

If you need to know more about filing a Chico workers' compensation claim, call the Ledgerwood Law Group toll-free at 888-761-7383. Also order our free and informative guide, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual.

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