Settlement reached between Matsu Sushi owners, workers
WESTPORT — After nearly two years of back-and-forth, Matsu Sushi has settled its case with former employees and is now reopen for business.
The downtown Japanese restaurant temporarily closed in October due to its sales and use tax permit being suspended by the state. This came as the restaurant faced a decline in business due to an ongoing dispute with former workers Liguo Ding and Jianming Jiang, who were fired after refusing to complete a 36-hour shift in 2017.
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In October 2018, a judge ruled the restaurant had illegally fired the workers and ordered them immediately reinstated. After several protests and the workers winning an appeal, a settlement was finally reached in early November. As part of the settlement, the restaurant will reinstate the workers and pay them $200,000 in back pay and returned deposits.
“We are pleased that the employers have chosen to settle the matter,” said Sara Ahn, of Flushing Workers Center, who has been a staunch advocate for the workers.
She added the support of the community and local politicians played a crucial part in helping send a message to the employers.
“The workers are thankful for that support,” Ahn said.
James Bhandary-Alexander, attorney for the workers, noted the case was unique in his experience due to the agreed settlement including full restitution and reinstatement.
“It’s very good,” Bhandary-Alexander said. “The agreement is very secure.”
Carolina Yamamoto, a Yale Law School student who assisted on the case, said the settlement was a testament to both sides willing to compromise.
“We’re very glad this case settled,” she added. “I know our clients are looking forward to getting back to work as well.”
Ding and Jiang have not yet returned to work, as the National Labor Relations Board must first make a determination on the settlement terms in the coming weeks. According to Matsu spokesperson Phil Oliva once this is done the restaurant may host a grand reopening.
“I think both sides feel good about the agreement,” he said, adding the settlement was fair and equitable.
When the restaurant reopened on Nov. 29, Oliva said customers were already making their way back. Now with all of its matters seemingly resolved, the restaurant looks toward the future.
“We’re back in business, all of those issues are now behind us,” Oliva said. “We can go back to doing what Matsu does best, provide fresh and delicious sushi and Japanese cuisine for Fairfield County.”