Temple Cook Drops Lawsuit Against Flushing Hindu Temple

December 1, 2005

Source: Queens Chronicle


On December 1, 2005 the Queens Chronicle reported, "The Hindu Temple Society of North America has scored a victory in its battle against a group of members who are seeking to replace its current leaders with a new group of elected trustees. A temple cook, who claimed in a lawsuit that he was exploited, has withdrawn his name from the suit, although his former attorney says the decision may have been coerced... The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court on July 14th, with Lakshminarayanan as its sole signatory. It claims the temple’s cooks and priests, who were brought over from India under religious worker visas, were forced to work long hours without overtime. According to Chittur, this is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York’s labor laws. The lawsuit also accuses the temple of obtaining religious worker visas for its cooks under the pretext that they would only be performing religious duties such as preparing cooked offerings and food for religious festivals. Chittur says the cooks in fact function as ordinary restaurant cooks at the temple’s canteen and for private catering assignments outside the temple’s premises... The temple’s lawyers say Lakshminarayanan and other cooks are not exploited, as they receive annual salaries of $35,000 to $50,000 as well as housing and four weeks’ vacation per year."