Kevin Onyona Who Hosted President Ruto In The US Accused Of Wage Theft

President William Ruto visited the Swahili Village Restaurant in New Jersey, United States, on Sunday, September 17, where he expressed his pride in Kenyans engaged in business abroad.

“We are very proud as Kenyans. I am a very proud Kenyan leader. You have come all the way and hustled your way through the states,” President Ruto said.

The restaurant is owned by a Kenyan, Kevin Onyona, who lives in the US.

Mr Onyona is facing prosecution from authorities for allegedly stealing wages from hundreds of his employees for many years.

The lawsuit contends that the restaurant’s executives, Kevin Onyona and Emad Shoeb, rampantly and systematically violated the city’s tipped minimum wage law and other worker protections. The restaurant adds a 20 percent gratuity to all checks, but the owners allegedly pocketed large quantities of tips, and compensated some employees exclusively through tips, with total wages far below minimum wage or even DC’s tipped minimum wage. Some workers allegedly were underpaid by up to $5,000.

Onyona and Shoeb allegedly stole from their working-class employees, many of whom are African immigrants, even while catering to an elite international clientele, the lawsuit says.

“Our investigation indicates that Swahili Village DC and its executives, Kevin Onyona and Emad Shoeb, persistently and systematically failed to pay hundreds of hard-working restaurant workers the wages, tips, and benefits they were legally entitled to receive, violating the basic wage, overtime, sick leave, and record-keeping rules that all District employers are required to follow,” DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb said in a statement.

After receiving a tip, the attorney general’s office spoke to more than a dozen Swahili Village employees during a lengthy pre-suit investigation. The lawsuit claims that Onyona and Shoeb kept no regular payroll records, which kept their employees in the dark about how their pay was calculated and what was being deducted. Some employees allegedly clocked over 60 hours of work per week without earning overtime, which by law must be 1.5 times the regular rate. And Onyona and Shoeb allegedly never gave their employees any paid sick leave, while also reprimanding them for missing work due to illness.

Swahili Village DC, nicknamed “The Consulate” by its owners, advertises itself as a hangout for African dignitaries and diplomats. Its Kenyan staples like goat stew, nyama choma, and whole tilapia in coconut sauce have drawn critical praise and attention from the Kenyan ambassador. Onyona, a former seminary student, opened the original Swahili Village in a tiny space in College Park in 2009 before moving into a Beltsville space several years later. He opened the M Street location in March 2020 and another location in Newark, New Jersey the following year, and the Swahili Village website advertises future locations in Manhattan and Tysons Corner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *