A restaurant worker is suing his former employer, Americana Café, and its principal chef, alleging violation of labor law in a 2014 wage dispute.

Ricardo Polenda of Harris County filed a lawsuit in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas on Aug. 20 against Eddie’s American Cuisine Concepts LLC, doing business as Americana Café, and Edilerman Molina, claiming multiple unlawful employment practices from May to October 2014.

According to the lawsuit, Molina, the restaurant’s chief executive chef and Polenda’s direct supervisor, controlled Polenda’s schedule from May 1, 2014, through Oct. 14, 2014. The plaintiff contends that he worked Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; that he was required to show up before his shift began “in order to set up” but could not clock in till 7 a.m.; and that an hour’s pay was nevertheless deducted from each workday despite the fact that Polenda was allegedly never given a lunch break.

The plaintiff estimates that he worked an additional 5 hours over 40 hours weekly for which he was denied overtime pay, and was told that the company “did not pay overtime.” Maintaining that he was a non-exempt employee, and charging the defendant with violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Polenda alleges that the defendants’ actions were done willfully.

The plaintiff seeks compensation to recover unpaid overtime compensation, minimum wages, liquidated damages or pre-judgment interest, attorney’s fees, expenses, and costs. He is represented by Thomas H. Padgett Jr. of the Ross Law Group, Charles Scalise, and Daniel Ross, all of Austin.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case 4:15-cv-02402

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