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Ex-employees of Café con Leche are accusing their former bosses of owing back wages. The former workers held a March 9 protest in front of the café, on Amsterdam Avenue between West 95th and 96th streets, according to Manhattan news website

Three employees—Panfilo Peofilo, Felix de Jesus and his cousin, Silvestre de Jesus—allege they put in 12-hour days and worked 80-hour weeks without overtime pay, making only $2.08 an hour, according to Thomas Kihn of the National Mobilization Against Sweat Shops, the group organizing the protests.

“They’re fighting with coworkers to get their owed salary and their owed wages,” said Kihn, translating the workers’ complaints. “Also, they want to be able to return to work, but with better conditions. You don’t have time to do anything but work. You don’t have time to eat.”
Chander Malik, a co-owner of the restaurant, did not return calls for comment, but his lawyer wrote in an email that Café con Leche respects the right of ex-employees to protest and that owners hope for an amicable end to the dispute.

“The restaurant believes that it has been in full compliance with all wage and hour and employment laws and believes that its position will be vindicated,” Carolyn Richmond, Malik’s counsel, wrote.

Malik is a former Westy Award winner, a civic honor given by West Side Spirit each year.

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