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MALDEF Lawsuit

MALDEF is suing Moskowitz' bingo
to get back wages for unpaid "volunteers."

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is suing the Moskowitz bingo on behalf of unpaid immigrant workers who worked a regular schedule at the bingo, were punished for unexcused absence, but were paid only tips, as required by California law requiring charitable bingo to be run by volunteers.

Bingo Club Sued Courts: Latino Rights Group Says People Called Volunteers Are Employees
by Joe Segura, Staff writer
20 March 2000
Long Beach Press-Telegram

A major Latino civil rights organization filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday alleging that the Bingo Club is abusing its staffers by calling them volunteers and not paying them salaries.
MALDEF is seeking a temporary restraining order to force the club to pay salaries while the case makes its way though the courts. The suit also seeks back pay for the staffers.

Workers at Bingo Club Mistreated, Suit Claims -- Labor: MALDEF Alleges That Charity Operation Avoids Paying Employees a Wage by Calling Them Volunteers
by Eric Malnic, Times Staff Writer
20 March 2000
Los Angeles Times

Low-income Latino workers at Moskowitz’s bingo club are not paid fair wages, while their employer takes in as much as $50 million a year. MALDEF is suing to get back wages for unpaid "volunteers."
MALDEF Demanda a Club de Bingo
by Patricia A. González-Portillo, Reportera de La Opinión
20 March 2002
La Opinión

The suit alleges that, for more than a decade, the Moskowitz bingo made its employees, the majority of them Latino, work as volunteers for tips alone. This story notes that MALDEF included as defendants South Bay Security and Protective Services and its president, Al Lazar, the day-to-day boss of the bingo.

The Bingo Connection
by Christopher D. Cook
01 September 2000
Mother Jones

“Like all bingos in the state, the Hawaiian Gardens club is run by a not-for-profit foundation. But while most bingos raise less than $100,000 a year for local churches and schools, Hawaiian Gardens is neither small nor local. The operator of the club has made international headlines for inflaming tensions in the Middle East.” Meanwhile, residents are struggling to make ends meet serve as “volunteers” in the bingo club, working solely for tips. This article looks at the Hawaiian Gardens bingo club and casino and controversial business dealings of Irving Moskowitz. It also gives background on Moskowitz's life and a brief history of the city of Hawaiian Gardens.
Moskowitz fails character test required for a gambling license.
To come: Worker sues Moskowitz casino, claiming he was made to pay for his job.

June 11, 2000: Attorney General gets conclusive evidence that Moskowitz is unfit for gambling licenseIn another evident violation of California's charity bingo laws, the Coalition obtained a pay-stub for a bingo worker who was supposed to be a "volunteer." The company issuing the W-2, and, evidently, the paychecks, was South Bay Protective and Security Services, headed by longtime Moskowitz associate Al Lazar. Bingo workers and other observers say that Lazar ran the bingo at least until 2002. [click for the document in .pdf format, which includes a link to an actual W-2 form showing payment of illegal wages, or click here to see the W-2 alone]

California gambling law that governs the licensing process [see the law here]

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© 2003 the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem