ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The mayor's office was criticized for not getting involved when restaurant workers were getting stiffed on the new minimum-wage ordinance. Now it's involved in a big way.
On Friday the city served a lawsuit to the Route 66 Malt Shop in Nob Hill.
The city is representing former waiter Kevin O'Leary who's going after the restaurant for not paying the city's new minimum wage.
The lawsuit alleges malt shop owner Eric Szeman made employees sign an illegal contract that said they would work for the old minimum wage. It also claims Szeman told employees there would be trouble if they didn't sign.
O'Leary spoke out against his boss, and the lawsuit says that's when nearly all his hours were cut at the shop. The shop owner's son also is alleged to have shown up at O'Leary's home to threaten him with a machete and bat.
City Hall, which was against the minimum wage hike , stepped in this week saying it's not going to allow businesses to break the law.
On Friday an employment consultant for the malt shop told KRQE News 13 that Szeman was just confused about what he was supposed to pay under the new ordinance.
Consultant Josephine Martinez de Nuñez said she's helping the owner understand it and that he is now paying the new wage, which made the lawsuit unexpected.
"This surprises me," Martinez de Nuñez said. "We have seven times tried to resolve this with Mr. O'Leary.
"We actually offered three times the back wages and basically was shot down and was shot down by Mr. Wheeler from the city of Albuquerque>
City attorney Greg Wheeler said the city will not work with Martinez de Nuñez because she's not an attorney.
Martinez de Nuñez also said it was only three waiters who were not getting paid the new wage -- not the entire staff.
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