Jimmy's Experience at Shaz Restaurant in Sacramento

Jimmy, the homeless man who fed stray cats all over Northridge is back in Los Angeles. He was fired last Saturday after 41 days of continuous labor because the owner said Jimmy had frequent angry outbursts at him. Jimmy's story can be found on the LA Weekly site: http://www.laweekly.com/2009-07-30/news/jimmy-on-the-edge-of-town/1

Knowing better than to just believe the owner of Shaz's account of Jimmy's stay at his restaurant, I asked Jimmy for his side. It is far, far different from Mohammed's story. Mohammed had said he fired Jimmy because Jimmy kept exploding in anger at him including in front of customers. Jimmy said Mohammed was angry about his cat Meena and constantly wanted him to get rid of her.

Jimmy stated Mohammed had both a good side and a bad side. Good for the first 3 days, especially if you were a visitor. Bad if you were a long term employee. 

Jimmy was given room and two meals a day. He stated he worked from 9 a.m. to about midnight, or 15 hours a day for 41 days in a row without any day off. He was given 1 hour off for lunch and two 15 minute breaks. Employees ate supper after all customers left at around 10:30 p.m. After about a half hour supper, employees cleaned up and closed around 11:30-12:00 p.m. That is a 13-1/2 hour day, seven days a week for almost 6 weeks with no days off!!

Jimmy's pay?  $2.89 per hour!!! No overtime!! All paid as cash under the table.

The minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour, and has been since 2008!

This is a buffet style restaurant like Soup Plantation. Few tips are left. In any event, under state law, an employer cannot deduct tips from wages. The following is from the state's industrial division website: 
I work in a restaurant as a waitperson. Can my employer use my tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay me the minimum wage? 
No. An employer may not use an employee's tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage.
Jimmy was not paid any overtime, despite state law that requires 1.5 pay for any time over 8 hours per day, and 2X for any time worked beyond 12 hours a day. That is, Jimmy should have been making $8 X 8 hours, or $64, + 4 X $12, or $48, plus 1.5 hours X $16 per day, or $136/day, instead of the $38 a day he was actually paid.
No wonder Jimmy got mad.
Jimmy will be living in a secret place in the Northridge area beginning on Wednesday, looking for a restaurant job.


Ed Muzika said...


The guilt feeling is natuarl, but look what you did. You drove 1,000 miles round trip to take Jimmy out of that awful environment and bring him back. Wednesday he comes back to Northridge to a somewhat better place than his former tent in Northridge. You did fine.

Jason said...

This was a very physically/emotionally draining weekend on me, so I cannot imagine how horrible it must have been for poor Jimmy.

Losing his job (the owner, right in front of him, said right out I want him to pack his things and be out of here tonight - he definitely was not wanted anymore), losing his accomodation, then losing his only beloved Mina, and then being dumped on a horrrible freeway interchange in Studio City with six-lanes of fast moving, noisy, endless traffic passing and merging on on-and-off ramps!

Nowhere to brush his teeth, wash, or sleep expect on a nasty piece of dusty dirt, with a few dead shrubs sloping down to the freeway! What did he do to deserve this?

God, I felt guilty and ashamed of my new 2 1/2-story house. I felt ashamed of taking Mina, I felt ashamed of taking a leisurely shower and ablutions, then sitting on a comfy sofa and watching Lord of the Rings on widescreen high-definition television, and then sleeping in nice-sheltered comforatable bed for 10 hours. I felt so guilty.

- Jason

Anonymous said...

I hope Jimmy finds a decent job and eventually a safe place to live. Does Jason have Mina?

I've spent a lot of time working in restaurants and know that immigrants are taken advantage of in terrible ways, esp. by other immigrant business owners. I once worked with a Morrocan man who thought going to work for another Morrocan would be better than washing dishes at the American-owned French restaurant where we both worked. At the Morrocan rest. he got paid less than minimum wage and had to work bizarrely long hours, so he came back to the French place.

Best of luck to Jimmy in finding a better life for himself.

Anonymous said...

$2.89? That's crazy! I guess the restaurant owners knows that Jimmy can't complain because it was under the table

Unknown said...

I hope everything works out for the best. I don't understand why he offered Jimmy a job & place to stay only to abuse him.

Ed Muzika said...

All of the employees there are illegal except for Jimmy. He gets them to immigrate from India and Pakistan, gives them a room, and works them for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for peanuts. Kind of a 21st century slaver.