Employees suing Upper West Side restaurant Indus Valley for unfair labor practices reached a settlement with management last month, ending a nearly two-year legal battle.
The employees had accused owners and managers of the restaurant, at Broadway and 100th Street, of paying them below minimum wage, withholding tips from online orders, and verbally and physically mistreating them. The plaintiffs will be paid a total of $276,000 over the next year.
“It’s a fair settlement of the lawsuit,” Eleuterio Calixto, a former Indus Valley delivery worker, said in Spanish through a translator. “My coworkers and I are very pleased with the settlement.”
Calixto said the employees, who worked as dishwashers and delivery workers, voted unanimously to accept the offer after the New York Southern District Court approved the settlement on May 9.
“Everyone’s happy with the outcome of the lawsuit,” said attorney William Massey, CC ’95, who represents the workers.
Indus Valley management did not return repeated requests for comment.
In October, Calixto said he and the other employees were suing the restaurant “to stop the mistreatment and abuse not only for ourselves, but for other immigrant workers.” He said the managers would call the workers “dogs” and yell at them to work faster.
The dispute became a focus of student labor activism at Columbia. In October and November, the Student-Worker-Solidarity group picketed regularly outside of Indus Valley, which is popular among students.
“We would like to thank the students, professors and other members [of the Columbia community] … for the support that they gave us during this case,” Calixto said.
“We’d like to encourage everyone to return to eating and ordering food from indus valley now that we’ve reached an amicable settlement," he added. "It’s a good restaurant."
According to the settlement, Harjeet “Bobby” Singh, a manager at Indus Valley who was named in the original lawsuit, has “left the country indefinitely.” It was unclear whether Singh’s departure was related to the lawsuit.
Over the course of the lawsuit, Singh and the other defendants—the restaurant's two owners and another manager—tried to stall a decision. When the suit was filed in August 2011, they unsuccessfully tried to get the case thrown out and did not respond to the complaint. In November, the defendants' lawyers withdrew from the case, leaving them to represent themselves.
Calixto said he hoped the outcome would inspire similar action against unfair labor practices elsewhere in the city.
“I think this can serve as a good example for other workers in New York,” he said.