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For months, the Gazette has investigated working conditions at some Asian restaurants. Continue reading for stories of long hours, low wages and sketchy housing situations as undocumented workers flee their home countries to live and labor Under the Table.
About this series
Meet the journalists

Day 1: Overworked and underpaid

Day1Main.jpg At least seven Chinese restaurants in Hampshire County pay under minimum wage

A Gazette investigation has identified at least seven Chinese restaurants where workers may be making less than the legal minimum — and that’s without taking into account the time-and-a-half overtime pay many employers provide for work beyond the standard 40-hour week.

 

gavel.jpg Officials: No excuse for paying workers less than legal wage 

Most Americans would never accept a new job without knowing where it was and what the hours would be. Nor would they take an apartment without knowing if it meant a bedroom to themselves or a living room floor shared six ways. Undocumented workers don't always have that luxury.

 

Day1Owner.jpg Some employers deny, avoid questions about pay practices

Some of the restaurant owners who acknowledged paying workers less than the legal minimum in initial interviews with the Gazette offered different accounts when a reporter asked follow-up questions about the legality of that practice.



 

Massachusetts-Statehouse.JPG Massachusetts law exempts restaurants from paying workers overtime for long weeks, but federal law says otherwise

The laws dictating what restaurants are required to pay their workers aren’t easy to understand — particularly in Massachusetts.


 

Day 2: Worker housing often substandard 

Day2Housing.jpg Employer-provided housing ranges from clean and spacious to cramped and poorly maintained 

Restaurant owners tout the housing they provide workers as an “employee benefit,” but a Gazette investigation found such housing isn’t always so beneficial.
 

Day2Golden.jpg Golden China Pan owners pay workers fair wages but then struggle to pay their own bills

Amy Pan thinks about selling the Golden China Pan restaurant she owns in Easthampton, saying their two employees make more than she does. And they only make minimum wage.

 

Day 3: Workers struggle for jobs, dignity

Day3NewYork.jpg Chinatown job agencies form hub of underground restaurant economy

Out of a job and a place to live after a Northampton restaurant closed, a group of undocumented immigrants head to a cluster of job agencies in Chinatown in New York City to start over. 


 

Day3LinGeng.jpg Lin Geng's story: undocumented Chinese immigrant went for years without earning minimum wage

Coming to the United States from China 14 years ago, Lin Geng hoped for something better. He found a succession of restaurant jobs that featured 72-hour weeks and pay that until recently ran well below the legal minimum.


 

Series Aftermath

aftermath-1.jpg Editorial: Immigrant workers deserve better treatment

The dream of America, for most immigrants, is the dream of a better standard of living, earned through hard work in a country where employment laws apply to all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation — or immigration status. 


 

aftermath-2-(1).jpg

Readers comment on Under the Table series

Letters in response to the Gazette's 'Under the Table' series.




 

aftermath-3.jpg ‘Under the Table’ series prompts calls for investigation, legislation

State, federal and municipal leaders are calling for an investigation and new legislation targeting the underpayment of immigrant restaurant workers detailed in a recent Gazette series, “Under the Table.”


 

aftermath-4.jpg ‘Column: Senate legislation to end wage theft epidemic

The Massachusetts economy is working very, very well for some people, but not nearly well enough for others. That’s why we have one of the highest rates of income inequality in the country.rdquo;