Spa Owner Accused of Mistreating Workers
From JoongAng
April 12, 2004

Four Hispanic employees of a Korean owned spa have filed a lawsuit against the owner, Ms. Lee, demanding $34,000 in compensation.

The employees of Osaka Zen Spa in mid Manhattan sued the owner for various abuses and not paying wages. They accused the owner of insulting them, stealing tips, and forcing them to work 100 hours a week for only $250. They also maintained that they had to sleep on the massage tables and suffered from malnutrition due to the inadequacy of the room and board the owner promised. They said that the owner forced them to clean the entire building, throw out garbage, and even make kimchi, as well as do massages.

Lee and her two daughters denied the charges, saying, "There was no abuse of worker's rights because their employees voluntarily agreed to the working condition and training process. We don't need to listen to these people with complaints about everything."

According to AsianWeek and U.S. News & World Report, the Lee family immigrated to the United States in 1970s and has made a fortune in the profitable spa business.

In Octover, 2000, Time Out magazine published a report praising the spa. In 1995, New York Magazine said the spa offered the best massage in New York City.

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Translated from Korean by Bonhee Chung

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