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Workers at BWI airport restaurants join forces to file suit for unpaid wages

BALTIMORE, Maryland (October 24, 2013) Three employees recently sued Aero Service Group (ASG), a company that owns and operates five restaurants at the BWI airport, alleging that the company systematically and willfully did not pay them minimum and overtime wages. The five airport restaurants are DuClaw Brewing Company, Zona Mexicana, two Villa Fresh Italian Kitchens, and Sky Azure at the airport.
The collective action suit alleges that ASG has had a policy of paying its employees two separate paychecks for the same pay period and then failing to pay the legally-mandated overtime wage of time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours in one week.  The employees also allege that they are required to attend mandatory “cleaning parties” that last several hours and are not paid any wages at all for such work.  Lastly, they allege that Aero Service Group is illegally paying its tipped employees below the applicable minimum wage and failing to pay the proper overtime wage when they work more than forty hours.
“I am a hard worker, and I am loyal to this company, but I am tired of this company playing their workers who they think won’t speak up for themselves,” explained Damonte Pitts, one of the named Plaintiffs. “This is really about ensuring that workers who make the concessions run at BWI are paid all their hard-earned wages,” commented Alexandra Rosenblatt, an attorney at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore who is one of the attorneys representing the Plaintiffs.  “We are simply seeking to enforce bedrock wage laws, and ensure that a dollar earned is a dollar paid.”
The suit comes at a time of increased attention on the plight of workers and their complaints regarding low-quality concessions jobs at BWI.  Concessions at the airport had been run by the Maryland Aviation Administration, until 2005 when then-Governor Robert Ehrlich signed a multi-year contract with the private corporation, Airmall.  Airmall, in turn, entered into dozens of leases with various chains, including ASG.  As the concessions manager, Airmall generally denies any control over the working conditions of the companies with which it contracts. See Baltimore Brew, “BWI workers rally for better pay, benefits, and respect.” Feb. 13, 2013; See also The Baltimore Sun, “BWI expansion seed money approved, officials criticize developer.” July 24, 2013; See also Maryland Daily Record “1,000 sign ‘Board Passes for Justice’ at BWI.” Sept. 26, 2013.
The case is Jones, et al., v. Aero Service Group, et al., 1:13-cv-03027.  Plaintiffs are represented by Alexandra Rosenblatt of the Public Justice Center, Howard B. Hoffman, and Bradford W. Warbasse.  
The defendants in the lawsuit are Aero Service Group, Inc. and Aero Service Partners, LLC; Cheng Lor, the Chief Executive Officer, owner, and founder of ASG; and Bob Helman, the Director of Operations for ASG. 
Alexandra Rosenblatt
Public Justice Center 
(410) 625-9409, ext. 240

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