Business Owners Pay Thousands To Former Employee - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Business Owners Pay Thousands To Former Employee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One organization says a large number of undocumented workers are being paid less than minimum wage and then not getting paid for all the hours they worked.

In a parking lot on Nolensville Pike Sunday, crowds of people were holding signs and cheering in Spanish, for what many are calling a victory.

"The members of Workers' Dignity are excited to announce Los Arcos's owner has agreed to pay," said Kara Howard with Workers' Dignity. Workers' Dignity is a non-profit organization helping low-income workers fight against economic injustice.

The group claims Martha Gonzalez worked more than three years at the restaurant making just $325 a week after working seven days a week and up to 70 hours. Tristan Call with Workers' Dignity translates for Gonzalez. 

"We never really stood up to say anything about it because of the necessity that we needed some type of job," said Call translating for Gonzalez.

Martha says the reason she and many other Hispanics are taken advantage of is they are living and working in this country illegally. It was only after one year Martha says she complained.

"I talked to my manager and said, ‘It's been a year, and I'm tired. I need to have some breaks so that I can keep working.' He said there wasn't anyone there who could cover my position; they didn't have anyone for back-up," said Gonzalez.

News Channel 5 spoke with one of the co-owners (Jose Gutierrez) of Los Arcos on the phone. He says all these allegations made by Gonzalez are false. He says she did not work there three years, only seven months, and she only worked Friday, Saturday and Sundays. He says he wants to be very clear that the money was not back pay but a settlement.

"I feel very happy for this enormous victory today," said Gonzalez. I also know we have a distance yet to run."

A small victory in what Workers' Dignity says is a major fight, and they will not give up in getting justice for all, documented or not.

"We like to put on notice any unscrupulous employers that we are united, and we will fight for the dignity of all workers in our community," said Howard.

Owners of the Los Arcos restaurant agreed to pay Gonzalez more than $10,500. They will pay $3,750 up front and promises to pay the remaining $6,750 in monthly installments.


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