Employees sue Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Central Square

Lawsuit claims Happy Lamb violated state and federal wage and hour laws

Nine current and former employees of the Happy Lamb Hot Pot restaurant in Central Square are suing the restaurant for “failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, stealing workers’ tips, ignoring paid sick leave laws, and retaliating against employees,” according to a press release sent to The Tech by Greater Boston Legal Services, the firm representing the employees.

The employees, who worked as wait staff, bussers, hosts, and kitchen staff at Happy Lamb, are asking for $806,000 to compensate for violations of state and federal wage and hour laws since the restaurant’s opening in 2016, the press release continued.

The complaint was filed Oct. 30 with the United States District Court in Massachusetts.

“We are waiting for the Defendants to respond to the workers' Complaint and then we will go through a scheduling process with the court,” Ting Chiu, staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, wrote in an email to The Tech Wednesday.

“The timeline for wage theft lawsuits vary, but we hope that the Defendants understand the seriousness of the workers' allegations and respond immediately,” Chiu continued.

Sean Zheng, a former employee of Happy Lamb, said in the press release that the restaurant managers took portions of employee tips for themselves and for family members (some of whom were also employed by Happy Lamb).

Zheng also claimed to Eater Boston that when his name was mentioned in a coworker’s conversation about the violations, Zheng’s manager began decreasing his hours “until there wasn’t any work for me to do.”

Huan Ning Huang, also a former employee of Happy Lamb, told Eater that he was injured while working there but was not permitted to take leave and so had to quit.

He also said that Happy Lamb uses “really, really intense bleach and detergents” to wash dishes and linens, and the chemicals caused him skin irritation, to the point where it felt as though he was “being burned by fire.”

The employees are also calling for a boycott of Happy Lamb.

“Students could play a huge role in making sure that the workers' rights are enforced,” Chiu wrote. “The restaurant might not ultimately care about compensating the workers. But any business cares if it loses customers. To make sure restaurants don't exploit workers, students can vote with their feet — and in this case their stomachs too!”

Happy Lamb referred The Tech to one of the managers, Bin "Eason" Zhang, who could not be reached for comment as of press time.