This hasn’t been the best month for John Catsimatidis. Last week, he was crushed in the Republican mayoral primary, despite winning the hearts of Hipster Cop and the subway kittens; this week, the Gristedes head honcho had to fork over many thousands of dollars for a lawsuit, because it turns out employers have to pay employees for their overtime hours.
The billionaire grocery store magnate has been involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit since 2004, with Gristedes employees alleging he failed to pay them overtime. In 2009, he was ordered to pay workers $3.5 million, in addition to $3.9 million in legal fees. Yesterday, a Manhattan judge ordered Cats to pay his opponents’ lawyers an additional $645,000 after he lost two appeals.
Not that Cats is taking any of this lying down. “I think that somebody has to stand up to these people, and other small businesses in New York City cannot,” he said yesterday, alleging the workers’ suit was based on “loopholes.” Though it’s not clear who he’s holding responsible for manipulating said loopholes though Gristedes initially argued they didn’t owe overtime to their “salaried” employees, in 2008, a Manhattan judge ruled that “Gristede’s clearly sought to treat workers as “hourly’ for some purposes, (i.e., docking them for hours not worked during the workweek), but “salaried’ for other purposes (i.e., not paying them overtime for hours worked in excess of the workweek).”
* * *