CT restaurateurs accused of retaliating against employees

Niall O'Neill and Chris Delmonico of of the former Crabby Dog Tavern, in Stratford, were ordered by a judge to stop retaliating against employees.

Niall O'Neill and Chris Delmonico of of the former Crabby Dog Tavern, in Stratford, were ordered by a judge to stop retaliating against employees.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

BRIDGEPORT — The owners of restaurants in Stratford and Fairfield have been accused by federal officials of retaliating against employees who had previously complained that they weren’t paid.

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill recently ordered Chris Delmonico and Niall O’Neill, owners of The Ole Dog Tavern restaurants in Stratford and Fairfield, to stop retaliating against employees, including forcing the employees to give them kickbacks on back pay the owners had been forced to pay.

“The defendants continually violated their employees’ rights, first denying them proper pay and then using intimidation to claw back the monies they were legally required to pay the employees to resolve the violations we found,” said Sarah Thomas, assistant district director of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. “Their actions are illegal and unacceptable. They not only cheat workers, they also place law-abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage.”

Delmonico and O’Neill did not return calls for comment.

In 2017, the Labor Department sued the two men in federal court after employees claimed they had not been paid. According to court records, they later agreed to settle the claims for $137,465 in back wages.

However, labor officials recently filed papers in federal court claiming Delmonico and O’Neill were retaliating against employees who had made the pay complaints.

The retaliatory actions allegedly taken by the two men included: “driving two employees to a bank to cash their checks for back wages... and demanding payment in the parking lot; threatening one employee with blacklisting; firing another employee; (and) disparaging him to future employers and threatening to report employees to immigration and law enforcement agencies if they failed to give up the monies to which they were entitled.”

“The U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate employers threatening employees unlawfully with immigration consequences, law enforcement action, termination or blacklisting for asserting their workplace rights or keeping money that they are due. Employers that do so should be prepared to see us in court,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher.

Delmonico and O’Neill previously owned the Lazy Dog Tavern and the Crabby Dog Tavern in Stratford, Chubby’s restaurant and the Lazy Dog Tavern in Oxford.