City suing restaurant over minimum wage

Posted at: 03/01/2013 6:54 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The city is suing an Albuquerque business owner as the minimum wage battle heats up.

Not only does the lawsuit demand back wages for an employee, but more money because the worker alleged he was retaliated against.

The city filed the lawsuit on behalf of Route 66 Malt Shop employee Kevin O'Leary.  The lawsuit claims O'Leary was threatened and retaliated against after he went public with his demand for the new minimum wage.

The protests and debate over the city's minimum wage have raged for two weeks in Albuquerque.  At the center is O'Leary, an employee of the Route 66 Malt Shop. He, along with the city, is now suing the Malt Shop.

"They can’t believe this is happening," Josephine Martinez de Nunez said. "This is a business that has not even been here for three years. They have federal, state and now local ordinances that apply.  These regulations are very intense."

The malt shop said it has tried to pay O'Leary what he is owed.  Now, their spokesperson said, the lawsuit won't help.

"We have to meet payroll," Martinez de Nunez said.  "This lawsuit is crushing because it's hard to make payday in addition to this."

The lawsuit makes serious allegations; that the owner said to O'Leary, "we know where you live," and that O'Leary was threatened at his home by the owner's son with a bat and machete.

Next week, the city will ask a judge to order the defendants to stay away from O'Leary and not contact him.

The city told KOB Eyewitness News 4, malt shop offers to pay O'Leary have been, "nominal, not enough."

The spokesperson for the Malt Shop said the business is now getting an attorney.

Route 66 Malt Shop Lawsuit by