For Immediate Release
Workers who were employed for as long as 15 years didn’t receive sick days, received threats of physical assault, and were fired after they tried to enforce their labor rights!
The workers, working in collaboration Make the Road by Walking, filed a federal lawsuit last week demanding over $100,000 in back wages and damages
The protest and lawsuit are on behalf of eight workers who suffered gross violations of their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay while employed by Uncle George’s Greek Tavern ("Uncle George’s") located at 33-19 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106.
Uncle George’s is a bustling and popular Greek restaurant in Queens. Employees in the lawsuit worked as kitchen and support staff at Uncle George’s for many years, some for as many as 15 years. The plaintiffs worked in several positions such as assistant cooks, cooks, busboys, and dishwashers at the restaurant. They prepared food for customers and kept the kitchen and restaurant organized and clean. Uncle George’s management regularly shouted at employees and called them names. Employees often remained standing during the entire workday and were denied lunch breaks. Employees who sustained injury while on the job were instructed to continue working or face the possibility of immediate termination.
Employees consistently worked ten- to thirteen-hour days, six to seven days per week. Many of the plaintiffs took pay cuts without a decrease in hours worked per day. Employees who arrived twenty minutes late were faced with a choice: either work for free, or to go home and risk termination.
Employees were paid well under minimum wage, and all were denied the proper overtime pay mandated by law. Plaintiffs’ wages generally ranged from $35.00 to $60.00 per day, or roughly $3.00 to $5.50 per hour, with one plaintiff earning a higher daily rate as a cook. All of the plaintiffs were required to work mandatory overtime, often seven days a week, and no plaintiff was ever paid overtime as mandated by law.
Workers and members from Make the Road by Walking
34th Street and Broadway in Astoria, Queens (N train to Broadway)
March 16, 2006, 7pm
Interviews with affected workers available upon request