LAREDO, Texas – August 3, 2011 – On the eve of the one year anniversary of the unlawful terminations of several workers from Woody’s Last Resort restaurant, several former Woody’s workers have filed two lawsuits against the restaurant and its owners, Graciela Martinez and Hector “Bud” Martinez.
“This is about receiving an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. It has been a year and we are still waiting to be paid,” says Rory McCormick, former Woody’s cook and manager.
One lawsuit, filed in the 49th District Court in Webb County, alleges that seven former Woody’s workers were cheated out of their wages during their employment with Woody’s Last Resort in the summer of 2010. The second lawsuit, filed in the Southern District Court of Texas, alleges that four former Woody’s workers were terminated in retaliation for filing a complaint with the restaurant owners over non-payment of wages.
“Not only were these workers not paid their wages, but they weren’t even paid the legally required minimum wage,” says Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) attorney Israel Reyna, the lead attorney representing the workers. “Unfortunately, these wage violations are all too common throughout south Texas.”
Under the law, employers are required to pay their employees the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In addition, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that companies pay their workers at a rate of one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over forty in a week.
“Employers frequently engage in illegal pay practices, such as wage chiseling, which can cost employees thousands of dollars in lost wages per year,” Reyna added.
Both state and federal wage laws provide penalties against employers who act illegally. The workers seek to recover their unpaid wages. They also seek back pay, liquidated damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, and court costs under state and federal law.
Added McCormick, “What they did to us was wrong. We are doing this to stand up for our rights and other workers shouldn’t be afraid to do so either.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.