Royal India’s Shameful Paper Trail

The bosses at Royal India have no trouble lying to your face about their pattern of abusive behavior. Wage theft? They’ve never heard of it! Unpaid taxes? Certainly not!

Unfortunately for them, public records obtained by SeaSol don’t lie. When a worker in Washington State is robbed by their employer, they can file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). If the state finds in favor of the worker and the employer doesn’t pay, a warrant is eventually issued that becomes part of public court records. Guess how many wage theft warrants Royal India has?

It’s easy to check this yourself. Just go to the L&I website’s wage violations page and search for Royal India. We still can’t tell if these workers were ever paid their stolen wages, let’s hope so.

But that’s not the only way the Bhatti family steals from workers and our community. They also don’t pay worker’s comp, payroll taxes or unemployment insurance.

When a business employs a worker, they’re also required to pay payroll taxes that go to the worker’s Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. They must send a W-2 form to the IRS and the worker documenting the wages and taxes paid. We’ve heard from several workers who haven’t gotten W-2s, meaning Royal India is most likely not paying these taxes. So it’s not surprising that we found these nine tax citations against Royal India.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Why? Let us explain.

Reporting wage theft to the Department of Labor and Industries can be a long and intimidating process for working people, especially when they don’t speak fluent English. The bosses at Royal India have a history of threatening workers to scare them into silence.

Even when workers know and exercise their legal rights, the Labor and Industries (L&I) enforcement process is slow. When a worker files a claim, it takes 60 days for L&I to make a judgment. After that they may issue a citation to the employer. The employer can appeal, delaying the process further. When the worker finally wins, the state will “make every attempt to, but cannot guarantee, collection”. In other words, they don’t guarantee you’ll get paid. Good luck getting Royal India to pay when their vendors, the taxman, and their own landlord couldn’t.

When you’re struggling to make rent because you haven’t been paid for weeks or months of work, slogging through this bureaucracy might not be your best bet. Bosses know this; too often they get away with it because wage theft is hard to fight.

Consider this: you’ve had only a taste of the Bhatti family’s predatory behavior. Like many things you’d taste at Royal India, it’s dirtier than the owners let on. For them, robbing and abusing workers is a routine part of their business. Royal India’s bosses can threaten, lie, and bully all they want, but they can’t hide anymore. The evidence of their thieving is right there for the world to see.

Filthy Conditions at Royal India Kirkland restaurant

The owners of Royal India have a long history of being sued in Washington State, but not all of the cases against them are about stealing wages from workers and citations by Labor and Industries. Some cases are about the horrendously unsanitary conditions in their kitchen and restaurant.

The landlord of the strip mall in which Royal India resides sued them to retake the property after Royal India harbored a massive rat infestation (King County court case 19-2-08019-1 SEA).

Photos from the lawsuit show dead rats, rat feces throughout the restaurant, raw meat left out, and food left out on the floor…

Tens of thousands of dollars in repair were needed to address the rats (individual checks listed on the case total $23,075 in rat damage!) including rats from Royal India invading other tenants at the strip mall…

The Bhatti family did not pay their rent or the rat damage, and has caused problems in the Juanita Square stripmall for many years.

In addition to causing thousands in damage with their unsanitary food handling and kitchen maintenance practices, court documents mention thousands of dollars of unpaid rent by Royal India to their landlord. Aeisha and Mohammad Bhatti’s refusal to pay what they owe seems to be a pattern of behavior for them–their landlord, along with their workers and other business associates, have a terrible time getting these thieving bosses to pay what they owe

Workers we have spoken with confirmed the disgusting conditions in the Royal India restaurants, mentioning additional food safety problems such as one of the bosses taking food off a customer’s half-eaten plate with his fingers and adding it to another customer’s about-to-be-served meal. Former workers’ primary concern is getting their hard-earned wages paid. Unsanitary conditions, on top of abusive labor practices, provide customers with all the more reason to boycott Royal India.

Are you a current or former worker at Royal India? Still not paid for your work?  Get in touch!

Wage Theft and Worker Abuse at Royal India Restaurants

The Seattle Solidarity Network (SeaSol) recently learned of many shocking allegations of wage theft and illegal evictions from worker housing happening at the Royal India Fine Dining & Catering restaurants in Kirkland (9714 Juanita Drive NE) and Lynnwood (7531 196th St SW). The restaurants are owned by Mohammad Rashid Bhatti and operated by his daughter, Aeisha Bhatti. The Bhatti family owns several businesses in the Puget Sound area, many of them started by Mohammad Rashid and handed down to the next generation – Aeisha, Zerha, and Alveena.

Nine workers have approached SeaSol so far, all telling similar stories of unpaid wages, multiple checks bouncing several times in a row, and more. Workers report that they do not receive pay stubs or W2’s for working at Royal India, yet the bad Bhatti bosses withhold unexpected and arbitrary amounts of money for “rent” (at company housing) and “taxes”. Alarmingly, workers report that others have been fired and aggressively “evicted” from company housing after asking for their unpaid wages. These evictions allegedly consist of workers’ belongings being unceremoniously tossed on the street without notice by members of the Bhatti family as retribution for asking for overdue paychecks.

These workers’ horrifying experiences prompted us to look into the Bhatti family’s history. We quickly realized that these 9 workers’ stories were not isolated cases, but part of a pattern of abuse and violation of workers’ rights spanning many years. This family has a long history (publicly available via the Washington State Courts website) of not paying their business debts, with several writs of garnishment and judgments against them on file for delinquent taxes, unpaid rent, unpaid bills to restaurant contractors, and unpaid wages and/or minimum wage act violations.

Aeisha Bhatti’s checks frequently bounce, even for a home caregiving service she employed.

Many people and governmental departments have sued the Bhattis for money they owe, have won in court, and some have had to go back and get the court to help them garnish money when the Bhattis continued not to pay their debts. In April of last year, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (WA L&I) won two cases against Aeisha Bhatti (case numbers 22-2-50329-1 and 22-2-05328-3). 

Even with a cursory look at Glassdoor, we saw that several workers had corroborated current workers’ problems with late or stolen pay, no W2’s or pay stubs, and complaints of poor treatment at the hands of management.

Statement from a Royal India worker on Glassdoor, from Aug 2021
Statement from a Royal India worker on Glassdoor, from March 2023

Workers at Royal India deserve to be paid properly and promptly for their work, and to be treated with respect. On March 25, members of the Seattle Solidarity Network went to the Kirkland restaurant location and delivered a demand to the Bhatti family to pay two former workers, Juan and Pedro, $430 and $1500 respectively in stolen wages. These demands have not been met. 

Workers and supporters deliver the demand for payment to Royal India’s boss on March 25, 2023

Help us show Aeisha and Mohammad Rashid Bhatti that they cannot continue to steal from their workers and do business in our communities by boycotting both locations of Royal India Fine Dining & Catering until Juan and Pedro are paid what they are owed. 

We know that Mohammad Rashid, Aeisha, and the rest of the Bhatti family own and operate several other businesses (including more restaurants) in our area. Stay tuned for calls to boycott these other businesses in the future. 

Are you a worker or former worker at Royal India? Get in touch! 

An injury to one is an injury to all!