Looting Hawaiian Gardens
at Bingo Club Mistreated, Suit Claims -- Labor: MALDEF Alleges
That Charity Operation Avoids Paying Employees a Wage by Calling
|by Eric Malnic, Times Staff Writer
Originally published 20 March 2000
in Los Angeles Times
March 20, 2002
at Bingo Club Mistreated, Suit Claims Labor: MALDEF alleges that charity
operation avoids paying employees a wage by calling them volunteers.
charitable bingo operation in Hawaiian Gardens is fraudulently calling its
workers volunteers to avoid paying them lawful wages, according to a federal
lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The filing by the Mexican American Legal Defense
and Educational Fund says the 24 workers listed in the suit, most of whom
are Latinos, are paid no wages and depend on tips they receive while selling
bingo cards at the Hawaiian Gardens Bingo Club.
The club, owned by
the Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation, may take in as much as $50 million a
year, according to the U.S. District Court suit, which names the club and
foundation as the principal defendants. Some rabbis and peace activists have
accused Moskowitz of using profits from his clubs to finance hard-line charities
Critics, including the U.S. State Department, have accused him of inciting violent Israeli-Palestinian confrontations.
Under state law, charity bingo operations can use only volunteer workers.
suit contends that the club's workers "are not volunteers in any true sense
of the word" because they work regular hours several days a week, must sign
in and out, are punished if they violate work rules and must ask permission
before they go to the bathroom or leave the club.
Attorney Beryl Weiner, a club spokesman, said the workers "are, absolutely, volunteers."
"Nobody forces them to show up, and nobody says that they can't leave," Weiner said.
"They like what they do. Some of them have been there for more than 10 years."
said California law prohibits wages and salaries for volunteer workers, "and
the Moskowitz Foundation will not pay a salary or wage in violation of the
The filing was announced Tuesday at a downtown news conference attended by state Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles).
suit asks for damages including unpaid wages and other benefits, general
damages for pain, suffering and mental anguish, and punitive damages.
Copyright 2002, Los Angeles Times For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.
2003 design by elbop for the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem