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Ex-food truck worker says employer made him overtime without pay

A former employee of a New Jersey food truck says that he was fired as revenge for complaining about being overworked and underpaid. The man says he was forced to work up to 70 hours per week without getting overtime pay. He has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey, seeking pay he says he is owed and other damages.

The plaintiff worked from Taco Truck, a chain of Mexican-themed food trucks and restaurants. The company opened its first New Jersey location in 2009. The plaintiff was hired to work in Taco Truck’s Hoboken truck in February. He worked in the truck until Taco Truck fired him in September, claiming that he violated company rules.

But the man says that the real reason he was fired was because he complained about being made to work excessive hours. The man was working up to 70 hours a week. Sometimes, his shifts were so long that he had to sleep in the truck. Despite being a salaried employee, and working well over 40 hours a week, he did not receive overtime pay and averaged about $615 income per week, his attorney says.

The former employee believes he is not the only worker that Taco Truck has abused. His suit is a proposed collective action, meaning that other current or former employees could choose to opt into the suit. The plaintiff’s attorney said he is not sure how many people will opt in.

Many times, employers try to avoid doing the right thing when an employee is owed back pay or has another problem. Instead, they fire the employee on some pretext. Fortunately, wrongfully terminated employees have the right to seek damages in court.

Source: The Jersey Journal, “Taco hell: Lawsuit against food truck claims employee was overworked without pay,” Kathryn Brenzel, Dec. 9, 2013

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