Most overtime lawsuits in the news these days involve employers who did not pay it to a class of workers who were eligible.
But in a federal lawsuit filed in Connecticut last week, a man claims his boss assaulted him when he refused to work overtime at an auto shop that paints and finishes cars and motorcycles in Middletown.
Manuel Sebastian Castro Largo alleges that his former employer, Fat City Customs, and the man who runs the place, John A. Moore, did not pay him proper overtime. So when he told his boss on March 25 that he didn’t want to work anything over 40 hours, Moore allegedly snapped.
Castro claims Moore threatened to call police and immigration on him. Castro then tried leaving the shop, but Moore blocked his vehicle from exiting with his own and then demanded he give him back some of his wages.
Castro said he repeatedly asked Moore to let him drive away and that he had no intention of giving him any money back.
Moore then allegedly pushed Castro against a car, strangled him, threw him to the ground and stomped on his head, according to Castro’s lawsuit.
Another man came to aid Castro, who was screaming for help, but Moore still got another punch in at Castro’s face.
Castro was ultimately hospitalized for a concussion and other facial cuts, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims Moore ended up charging his former employer a $150 storage fee of his car that he wouldn’t let him leave in before the alleged assault.
Moore was charged criminally by Middletown police with third-degree assault, strangulation and disorderly conduct. Charges are still pending as Moore pleaded not guilty.
His lawyer, Mark Balaban, has said in published reports that his client never laid a hand on Castro; that it’s simply retaliation from a wage dispute. Balaban, of Middletown, did not return calls for this article.
Castro’s lawsuit also seeks unpaid wages, alleging Moore stiffed him on four years’ worth of overtime pay. The lawsuit also seeks damages for retaliation for the alleged assault and battery because Castro confronted his boss about the lack of overtime pay.
Castro is represented by James Bhandary-Alexander, of New Haven Legal Assistance.
“We represent a lot of low-wage workers and immigrant workers who haven’t been paid what they’re owed,” said Bhandary-Alexander, noting that some clients do experience some type of retaliation from their employer. “This is an extreme example. It’s not unfortunately isolated.”
Bhandary-Alexander said he just received a call from a community organization that claims they know of another immigrant worker who suffered a similar attack.
“OSHA estimates that there are 2 million incidents of workplace violence in the United States every year,” said Castro’s lawyer.
Bhandary-Alexander said his client hopes to get more than money in the civil claim.
“Castro is hoping this type of situation won’t happen to anybody else,” said Bhandary-Alexander. “Certainly this office brings these types of cases not just to help the worker who was damaged but to protect the law and workers in general.”•