Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Beverage Distributor

Mon, 02/01/2010 - 11:01am

For Immediate Release:
Brandworkers

Immigrant Workers Take a Stand for Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

New York, NY- A non-profit workers' rights organization filed a class action lawsuit on Friday alleging that a Queens-based drink distributor, Beverage-Plus, is violating the rights of its immigrant workforce.

The lawsuit was filed in New York federal court on behalf of current and former delivery drivers and warehouse assistants who were allegedly denied minimum wage and overtime by Beverage-Plus, in addition to other rights violations. The case is an effort of the Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative which is exposing abuses in NYC's food processing sector and was brought in association with law firm Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C.

"My co-workers and I work hard and now we are demanding to be paid according to the law," said Richard Merino, a member of Brandworkers who has been a driver at Beverage-Plus for six years. "Wage theft is very damaging and we have chosen to tackle the problem by organizing together and taking collective action."

Lawyers for the workers will seek class certification to recover allegedly withheld compensation for current and former Beverage-Plus workers who have worked at the company in the last six years. Maia Goodell and Anand Swaminathan of Vladeck Waldman are serving as lead counsel.

"Tens of thousands of recent immigrant workers labor out-of-sight in exploitative conditions processing and distributing food to New York's markets and restaurants," said Daniel Gross, the director of Brandworkers. "Wage theft, abusive treatment, non-existent benefits, and hostility to organizing are endemic in the sector but workers' resolve to assert their rights is strong and growing. Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain will press on until New York's food processing employees win respect for their human rights and just recognition for their important contribution to our economy and our community."

Brandworkers is a New York-based non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees. By providing workers with legal, advocacy, and organizing tools, Brandworkers ensures employer compliance with the law and challenges corporate misconduct in the community. The Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative promotes a sustainable food system where workers' human rights are respected.

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