Trouble in Store

Workers at a Brooklyn grocery say they're not paid fairly, if at all.

"I said, 'I'm going to be honest. We did,' " Ramon recalls. Supervisors pressured the couple to sign documents, written in English, they say. Then, they handed the couple time cards to use daily. The Nuñezes refused. "I said, 'I'm not going to punch in and out, because you're not paying me,' " Ramon remembers.

Adds Tomacina, "I don't want to have anything to do with lying. God does not like that."

The couple claim they got permission to take off work for a family emergency. But when they returned, they were told to leave. Since July 13, Ramon says he has tried to call the store four times to ask about his and his wife's jobs, to no avail. They cannot help but think the firing was retaliation for talking to the AG.

Rosenthal denies the charge. "We have not terminated any workers as a retaliatory act. That information is just false."

Smith, of the labor bureau, says investigators are aware of the accusation. "It would come into play in any complaint," she adds. If the AG's office finds wage violations, the labor bureau will try to force a settlement on behalf of employees. Attests Smith, "We do settle most cases because the employer violated the law, and he's got nothing to say in court."

For now, workers say they want what they deserve—back wages and decent pay. "Whatever happens will happen," offers Tomacina. "But I think the workers will win."

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