Fired workers win appeal against Matsu Sushi

WESTPORT — Two former Matsu Sushi chefs have won the latest round of a legal battle with their former employer, months after a judge ordered them be reinstated.

The downtown restaurant became embroiled in conflict when former employees Jianming Jiang and Liguo Ding contacted the Flushing Workers Center in December 2017, alleging they were fired for refusing to work a 36-hour shift.

In October, a judge ruled the restaurant had illegally fired the workers and ordered them immediately reinstated. What followed were several protest outside the restaurant, as the store had yet to restore the employees to their old positions.

However, a June 28 decision by the National Labor Relations Board orders the restaurant to cease and desist from discharging employees for “concertedly refusing to work an extra shift because of health and safety concerns.” The restaurant must also offer the former employees full reinstatement within 14 days of the decision.

“If the positions no longer exist, they are to be reinstated to substantially equivalent positions, without prejudice to their seniority,” the decision reads.

Matsu is also required to provide the fired workers with backpay and other expenses related to their loss of employment, and must also remove any files referencing the unlawful discharges of the Ding and Jiang.

The restaurant temporarily closed for renovations in April before opening in late May. On May 6, state Sen. Will Haskell and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg sent a letter to Ziqiao Cao and Kim Ming Cheng, encouraging the owners to meet with the workers.

“We have seen customers of Matsu Sushi for years and have tremendous appreciation for their hard-working employees who serve the Westport community,” the letter read. “We think it would greatly benefit both parties if you met with the workers to address their concerns.”

The restaurant is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.