Ex-Workers Say Harlem Meals on Wheels Shorted Wages

Ex-Workers Say Harlem Meals on Wheels Shorted Wages

A group of ex-workers hit a Harlem branch of Meals on Wheels with a proposed class action suit in New York federal court accusing it of depriving them of dozens of others of proper wages and overtime pay and firing them after they complained.

Ex-workers Roberto Contreras, Clifford Duviela and Norberto A. Marte filed a Complaint on Tuesday against Charles A. Walburg Multi-Service Organization Inc., which runs the Central Harlem Meals on Wheels, and its executive director Carla Brown accusing them of violating the Fair Labor Standards and state laws.

"There are many great non-for-profit food delivery organizations throughout the state and city of New York. Sadly, however, the above-named defendants violated the law at the expense of their hard-working employees," the complaint said.

The ex-workers seek to represent a class of current and former employees from November 2019 until the present who were paid less than minimum wage and did not receive time and a half for overtime work. They said the class could include dozens of people.

Contreras was hired by the Harlem Meals on Wheels as a truck loader, driver, and food delivery person in July for a rate of $20 an hour and said in the complaint that he often worked over 40 hours a week. Contreras said that he and other drivers were "docked" an hour per day — even though they were not taking hourlong breaks — so that they were not paid for that hour.

Additionally, he said his paychecks did not specify the number of hours he worked per week nor was he paid time and a half for overtime work as required by the law. Contreras became concerned with the time shaving and lack of overtime payment, and said he complained "repeatedly" in September and October. The nonprofit fired him on Oct. 3 in response, he said.

Duviela was also hired in July to work as a food delivery person, but for $16.50 an hour and was similarly required to work overtime, working 68 hours a week or more, according to the complaint. Like Contreras, he said he was not compensated for the extra work and his hours were shaved off, and when he complained, he was fired in September.

Meals on Wheels hired Marte in August as a food delivery driver at a rate of $17.50 per hour, and he worked around 60 hours a week, according to the complaint. He, too, was fired in November after complaining about failing to receive overtime pay and the time docking, he said.

Counsel for the workers declined to comment Wednesday.

A representative for Central Harlem Meals on Wheels did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The workers are represented by Joseph Jeziorkowski of Valiant Law and Peter Hans Cooper of Clienti and Cooper PLLC.