Demos Restaurant in Waltham Faces Allegations of Wage Violations
Waltham, Mass. – A former employee at Demos Restaurant in Waltham is suing his ex-employer alleging that he was not paid earned overtime owed to him.
Rafael Brooks (his first name also referred to as Raphael) filed the lawsuit in federal court in April, which claims that Demos violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage laws during his employment with the company from 1996 until October last year.
The court complaint alleges that Brooks “regularly worked in excess of  hours per week but, in blatant disregard for state and federal law, was not paid overtime.”
It says Brooks was employed “as a cook, service employee, wait staff employee, cleaner, and general laborer” at Demos, and his job description included “taking orders, waiting tables, food preparation, cooking, and cleaning.”
It further alleges that Brooks was paid $13 an hour, “generally worked sixty hours per week,” Monday through Saturday, was “misclassified as an independent contractor,” and did not receive benefits through his employer.
The complaint also claims that “Brooks was never paid one and one half times his regular hourly rate for hours worked over forty in a week,” which is the mandatory minimum overtime rate under federal and state law.
The defense’s answer to the complaint alleges that “Brooks was a manager who was exempt from overtime laws.”
It also alleges that “Brooks was a long-tenured employee who voluntarily resigned his Restaurant employment in October, 2013,” and that he was “typically paid his salary in cash.”
The major allegations are denied by the defense, and also it’s claimed that Brooks is “completely barred from recovering certain alleged damages in this matter as he was and remains an illegal resident in the United States and therefore was and remains unable to legally work in the United States.”
The lawsuit is also being brought as part of a “collective action,” which could include approximately 10 other employees in allegedly similar circumstances to Brooks who have worked for Demos “within the three years preceding the filing of this action who were wrongfully classified by the defendant as exempt from the overtime provisions” in the federal wage law and did not received overtime pay.
It’s alleged that the “defendants have engaged in a continuing violation of the FLSA,” resulting in unpaid overtime wages “as a result of the defendant’s pay practices,” which “was intended by the defendant and was willfully done.”
It’s claimed that the defendants “policy” which sought to “take advantage of undocumented workers by failing to pay them overtime or provide other benefits of employment.” Demos is run by its parent-company Delegas Brothers Inc., owned by brothers Nicholas and George Delegas.
In a press statement, lawyer for the defense John Tocci said, “Every year in Massachusetts, there are between four and five thousand claims made against employers.
“The vast majority are groundless and we believe that this one is not just groundless, but also frivolous,” he continues.
John Bita, Brooks’ lawyer told Open Media Boston, “Besides being denied overtime, Brooks and his co-workers were also denied other basic benefits of employment, including health insurance, worker's compensation, and unemployment benefits.
“By denying its employees such benefits, a business not only harms its employees but gains an unfair advantage over those that do. The employer has responded by claiming that an ‘illegal resident’ of the United States is barred from recovering damages but this is not the law in Massachusetts,” he continues.
According to the complaint, Brooks received a ‘right-to-sue letter’ from the fair labor division of the Massachusetts attorney general’s office.
The court is asked to order Demos to pay unpaid wages, attorney fees and costs, and damages, which are trebled under state law.
The case is being heard in federal court in Boston by US District Judge Douglas Woodlock.