ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Opening arguments began Wednesday in a lawsuit against an Albuquerque restaurant accused of violating the city’s minimum wage law. Owners of the Route 66 Malt Shop are accused of not only underpaying employees but also threatening workers into signing a document that said they were OK with being underpaid.
In 2013 Albuquerque raised its minimum wage. A tipped employee would have been paid $3.83 per hour. But former Route 66 Malt Shop employee Kevin O’Leary says his boss Eric “Seaman” Szeman was paying him only $2.13 and that he refused to pay workers any higher.
“After the minimum wage raise was put into effect, defendants publicly stated that if forced to pay the new minimum wage, they would close the doors and fire all their employees,” Assistant City Attorney Blake Whitcomb said.
O’Leary also says after he went to the media about being underpaid Seaman cut O’Leary’s working hours from 35 hours a week to 4 hours a week. Seaman’s defense lawyers argued that cutting O’Leary’s hours was punishment for slow service and loss of business.
The restaurant’s manager, Andrew “Seaman” who is the son of the owner is also accused of confronting O’Leary at his home with a bat and machete.