California Labor Law: The Busboy, 62, is Fighting Back


Beverly Hills, CA Imagine working for a company for 35 years, only to be unceremoniously cast aside without just cause. That's the circumstance, and the allegation of a wrongful dismissal lawsuit involving a 62-year-old former restaurant employee, and an International House of Pancakes outlet in Orange, California.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and compensation for various breaches of California labor laws, including emotional distress, pain and suffering, unpaid wages, meal and rest periods denied, statutory penalties, interests, and attorney's fees.

Ricardo Hernandez would have been 27 when he started work at the pancake house, and became a dedicated, loyal and model employee. However, that all appeared to change after he filed a complaint against the restaurant with regard to unlawful wage practices with the US Department of Labor.

His lawyers maintain that the restaurant's action against Hernandez is a classic case of retaliation against a whistleblower. It is alleged that the pancake house directed a number of actions and circumstances against Hernandez designed to force him to quit. When he didn't take the hint, the restaurant summarily fired him without just cause, warning or even an explanation.

Imagine working at the same place for 35 years, only to be told one day that your services are no longer needed. You're 62. Imagine the toll that would take on your life, and your emotional well-being.

Those in his corner maintain that Hernandez was treated deplorably.

According to the complaint, management started to become highly critical of Hernandez shortly after he filed the report with the US Department of Labor (the alleged wage violation was not identified). Along with unfounded accusations and stricter regulations relating to his work, his hours were reduced??"and when he did work overtime, it has been reported, he was not paid an amount that would have represented an overtime rate.

There are various statutes and requirements governing California labor law overtime.

It is alleged that he was required to work without rest or meal breaks (remember, Hernandez is 62)??"an alleged violation of California labor law breaks. There were, according to his lawyers, a constant barrage of comments and complaints relating to 'old age' and 'poor vision.'

Just before he was fired, Hernandez was demoted to busboy after 35 years with the employer. He was let go in October of last year.

Hernandez filed a formal complaint of discrimination against the International House of Pancakes with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. A 'right-to-sue' notice was issued on November 16th, and on March 19th of this year Hernandez filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Orange County Superior court.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit were MD Hope Corporation, a franchisee of International House of Pancakes, and its owner Sammy Saeed Medali.

Among the alleged violations are Age Discrimination and Perceived Disability Discrimination, Wrongful Termination, Failure to Pay Overtime Compensation, and various other Labor Code violations.

In the end they thought Hernandez would just take the bus and go home. In reality, the busboy is fighting back and looking forward to his day in court.

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