Just how bad were the alleged labor abuses at Coco Roco and Olive Vine Café? New allegations from the state Department of Labor paint a grim picture of underpaid workers, unpaid overtime and long hours.
At Coco Roco on Fifth Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, which was cited as owing $214,672 in back pay, state officials claim that a dishwasher worked 66 hours per week and received only $360.00, amounting to $6 an hour with no overtime. One deliveryman allegedly worked 72 hours per week and was paid $210, plus tips.
Seven other employees were reported to endure similar workweeks.
Workers at Olive Vine Café on Seventh Avenue between Lincoln and St. Johns places, which was charged $88,196 for back pay, also allegedly worked outrageous hours for low pay. In one case, a deliveryman who also washed dishes allegedly worked 72 hours for only $260. Three other employees’ wages were also at rock bottom, the state said.
The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Olive Vine Café owner Zaid Demis flatly denied the charges, saying the agency fudges numbers to garner publicity. And Demis said the department doesn’t even get its facts straight — fining him for four years of back wages for a worker who only toiled at the restaurant for four months.
He also complained that he was hit for $75,000 in back wages for “unknown persons,” an odd designation considering it is unclear who will be reimbursed.
The Department of Labor did not respond to Demis’s counter-allegations before The Brooklyn Paper’s biting deadline.
Zack Sonshine, the manager of Coco Roco, did not return repeated phone calls nor respond to visits by Brooklyn Paper reporters.