"This ruling is significant in that it tells employers that they cannot take advantage of immigrant and non-English speaking workers," said a statement from Cornelia Dai, one of the attorneys for the workers.
All of the $5.19 million will go to the workers, and the judge will set legal fees later, another attorney, Randy Renick, said Friday.
"We're confident that this is all going to be reversed on appeal," said Steve Atkinson, an attorney who represented the newspaper.
The employees filed a class-action suit against the Monterey Park-based, Chinese-language paper in 2004, alleging labor law violations.
Atkinson argued that the workers were professionals who were exempt from the work laws, and that they mainly worked from home.
"These reporters never came to the office ... maybe once a week for a training session. So they were on their own to take breaks and lunches," he said.