KOB-TV.com - An Albuquerque restaurant owner admits he is not paying his employees the city’s new minimum wage. He claims his employees agreed on paper to work at the old wage. One employee says he agreed out of fear of losing his job. "I'm a good server. I enjoy serving. This is what I've been doing," said Kevin O’Leary.From
O’Leary was looking forward to the boost Albuquerque’s minimum wage increase would give him. That is, until he says his boss at Route 66 Malt Shop approached him with an ultimatum. "I asked him, 'what is this? What's this form all about?' And he said, 'well, it's just that you're agreeing to the $2.13 an hour.' So I signed it," said O’Leary.
Owner Eric Szeman said he warned employees of layoffs when the ordinance was proposed and admits he approached O’Leary and his tipped workers with an employment contract. "It was an attempt to save everyone's job, which we did,” said Szeman. “We worked out a compromise that saved everyone's jobs.”
"I would like to comply,” said Szeman. So why won’t he? “We can't afford it,” he exclaimed. “We don't have the money. We don't make the money. The option is I'll get my keys right now I'll kick all the customers out and I'll lock the doors. That's the only other option we have," said Szeman.
The City of Albuquerque says it is not legal for a business owner to draw up a contract, paying employees below the minimum wage. But, the city says, ‘The city is not responsible for enforcing this because it is a “self help” ordinance.” An employee could potentially file a lawsuit against his or her employer. Read more