BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Five current and former employees are suing the Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center for a number of counts of wage theft.
They believe hotel managers withheld in excess of $800,000 via unpaid or misdistributed gratuities, improper wages, and unpaid commissions.
One of the complainants, Gabriel Burgos Nieves, recorded a phone conversation that he says was with an owner in June of 2020 where someone can be heard asking Burgos Nieves, who was laid off at the time, to come in for a volunteer shift.
“What are the hours, and what’s the rate of pay?”
“Well…It’s… so listen. Here’s how it works: There is really no rate of pay,” is what the person on the line can be heard saying.
“I don’t really think I’m asking too much when I ask somebody to come and volunteer for a day.”
Ian Hayes is representing the workers at Hotel Henry.
He said they’ve brought in millions of dollars by overseeing the events at the center, but have had hundreds of thousands stolen from them.
Hayes, and those he represents said they did try to talk with managers to settle the matter before they officially filed the complaint with New York’s Supreme Court last Friday.
Burgos Nieves claims the owner threatened his unemployment if he did not come in for an unpaid shift during the pandemic.
“I had to argue with him I was not denying a job, I was denying a volunteer shift.”
Burgos Nieves was an event manager, he said the hotel uses a 20% “administrative” fee vaguely and clients as well as staff are unsure of where the money is actually spent.
The complaint also alleges staff does not get legally required breaks and tips are improperly distributed to employees when a client pays by card or check.
The hotel provided us with the following statement but has not yet responded to the court.
Our first concern has always been our employees, guests and supporters. We take these allegations seriously and are investigating the claims. Because of pending litigation, we cannot comment further.”