Restaurants May Be Liable For False Criminal Case Against Employee Who Filed Overtime Claim

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Restaurants May Be Liable For False Criminal Case Against Employee Who Filed Overtime Claim

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Filing false charges against an employee who filed an overtime lawsuit may subject a New York restaurant group to a claim for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, according to a recent Decision (PDF) by New York federal court Judge Paul Crotty.

Gilbert Carandang worked as a bookkeeper for the restaurant group, that owns Flex Mussels and Zócalo restaurants in New York. Robert Shapiro, a co-owner of the restaurants, fired Carandang in 2011. Shapiro threatened the bookkeeper with jail time if he filed an overtime lawsuit against the restaurants. Despite the threat, Carandang filed an EEOC charge and unpaid wages lawsuit against Shapiro.  Carandang alleged that he had been paid incorrectly for overtime, and that the restaurants manipulated their books to eliminate hours worked by their restaurant employees, manipulating their overtime as well.

Shapiro made good on his retaliatory threat by filing a false criminal complaint against his former bookkeeper. Shapiro falsely accused Carandang of stealing funds from the restaurant.  This false complaint led to Carandang’s arrest, his spending six days in jail, and the police searching his home. Judge Crotty found Shapiro’s retaliation tactics “extreme,” “outrageous” and “beyond the pale.”  Judge Crotty refused to grant Shapiro’s motion to dismiss, and held that he could be found liable for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

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