Victory for EJC’s Wage Theft Collections Program
With the assistance of the EJC’s litigation team, George Coleman settled his wage theft claims against his former employer, Sweet Mango Café on November 30, 2012. Yet, it wasn’t long before the owners of Sweet Mango Café broke the agreement and stopped paying him the wages he was owed. EJC Staff Attorney, John Daroff, pursued an aggressive collections strategy to enforce the agreement, and it paid off.
In wage theft cases, it is common for the parties to enter into agreements like the one in this case. Unfortunately, private agreements such as this are frequently breached and so enforcement is the only way that workers can recover their wages. In this case, the EJC obtained a judgment from the broken agreement and used it to garnish Sweet Mango Café’s bank accounts. We were able to collect some of the money owed this way, but soon the bank accounts ran dry and the owners of Sweet Mango Café refused to make voluntary payments.
Next, the EJC seized Sweet Mango Café’s liquor license. The owners were not allowed to renew or re-claim their liquor license until they could show the Court that they had paid George the money they promised. Unfortunately, the owners still refused to make voluntary payments.
After taking money from the defendants’ bank account and their business’ liquor license, the time came to discover more assets that could be used to pay the judgment. Because we were enforcing a judgment, the law allows the EJC to require the defendants to come to Court so we could ask questions about any other assets we could take to satisfy their debt.
On the day of the oral exam hearing it looked as though the defendants would not show until the last second when a Sweet Mango Café owner entered the courtroom. Instead of talking assets, the owner wanted to talk settlement. That afternoon, EJC staff attorney John Daroff was finally able to settle the case when the defendant turned over a $10,000 check.
George Coleman was able to collect over $27,000 in unpaid wages and damages due the persistent efforts of EJC Staff Attorney, John Daroff and the EJC’s post-judgment enforcement initiative that is made possible with a grant from the Jovid Foundation. This case is an example of the EJC’s commitment to sending bad employers a message – you can run, but you can’t hide when you do not pay your workers what they are owed.