Hotel Workers Sue Over Alleged Low Wages, Inhumane Conditions
Interpreter and former hotel employee Henry Hernandez.
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Employees from two Nashville hotels are demanding fair pay for an honest day's work. Four employees have filed a lawsuit saying they were forced to work in inhumane conditions and didn't even receive minimum wage.
"It got the point where she pushed me, and she hit me in the face," former employee Henry Hernandez said.
Through an interpreter Hernandez told NewsChannel 5 about an alleged incident with his supervisor. He worked as a houseman at both the Best Western Music Row and the Comfort Inn across the street.
"I started working there, and I was paid $50 a day, so I thought this has got to be eight hours a day," Hernandez said. "Then it would turn out I would come in at 8 a.m., and I would work until 7 p.m. (or) 8 p.m. when the work was done."
He said 10 to 11 hour days were the norm, six days a week with no overtime pay; making far less than the $7.25 an hour minimum wage.
"What I want more than anything is that the abuses end," he said. "This is not just about me this is about everybody who is working there."
Hernandez was fired, and it wasn't until months later before he learned about the organization Workers Dignity.
"They want federal minimum wage," Workers Dignity spokeswoman Brenda Perez said. "They want a lunch break, you know pretty basic things."
With the organization's help, Hernandez and three other employees; some who are still working at the hotel; filed a lawsuit against the franchise owner Rajesh Aggarwal.
"I'm not angry," Hernandez said. "What really hurts me is that this abuse continues. That people who are inside still working there are facing this."
They said somebody needed to speak up.
"The only way we're going to stop these injustices is if we come together," Hernandez said. "And I would really like to see the Nashville community come and support those who are taking a stand."
Both hotels are owned by Aggarwal, who through his attorney sent NewsChannel 5 this statement:
"The hotels endeavor to comply with all federal and state laws. At this point, the hotels are investigating the allegations and will respond accordingly. The hotels believe in respecting the rights of all employees and will take the necessary steps to ensure that no violations have occurred or are occurring."
Aggarwal is an MTSU professor and is part owner of the Hickory Hollow mall.