In another food-related employment dispute, a Bronx bakery owner is accused of numerous criminal charges against employees. Walter Galliano, owner of the Arthur Avenue Bakery in the Bronx, was arraigned on over 200 misdemeanor and 40 felony counts, ranging from minimum wage violations, tax fraud and withholding wages from workers.
The charges came as the New York State Department of Labor launched an investigation into the bakery’s practices after a worker had come forward citing unfair labor conditions. During the investigation, it is alleged that Galliano threatened ten employees to retract their statements and numerous other employees were let go for their involvement and cooperation with the state.
The Times reports that some workers were paid as little as $55 a day for a ten to twelve hour work day, clearly undercutting the New York State minimum of $7.15 an hour. Mr. Galliano is also accused of cheating the State of unemployment funds, while failing to provide workers compensation insurance for his employees.
If convicted, Mr. Galliano could face up to 4 years in prison and be forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines. It will also bring relief to the numerous employees affected by Mr. Galliano’s alleged hiring and employment practices.
The economic downturn has taken its toll on numerous segments of the work force, but it continues to be seen that the most affected are generally the most vulnerable, low wageworkers struggling to get by. Food service in particular seems to be rife with these patterns of corruption and unfair practices, and hurts those workers who can afford it the least.