A former employee is suing Odessa for allegedly failing to pay overtime and minimum wage – the second such lawsuit to be smacked on the East Village institution in recent months.
The lawsuit, filed in August, claims that Mauricio Estrada, who prepared food and cleaned the kitchen at the longstanding diner on Avenue A, wasn’t paid overtime or minimum wage.
According to the suit, Estrada started working at Odessa in 2006 and worked anywhere from six to seven days a week, from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. For those 70 or so hours a week, he was paid a sum of just $340 to $356.
Back in June, another employee of the restaurant, a waiter named Dennis Vassilatos, brought a class-action suit alleging that during his 10 years of working at Odessa, he toiled 60 to 72 hours a week – without being given proper lunch breaks – at a pay rate of $360 (he got bumped up to $565 around 2011). According to the suit, which ended in a settlement, the plaintiff had spoken to dishwashers, delivery people, and other waiters who were also being short-changed.
Michael Skulikidis, who has co-owned the beloved Ukrainian diner since 1980 and was named in the suits, did not return a call requesting comment.
Though Odessa closed its bar a little over a year ago, its adjacent diner remains a haven of cheap eats in the ever upscaling East Village.