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Versailles Restaurant Slapped With Whistleblower Retaliation and Defamation Lawsuit UPDATED

VersaillesLine.jpg
Riki Altman
Iconic restaurant Versailles has been slapped with a lawsuit.
Attorneys have filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Civil Court that claims Versailles Restaurant fired two employees for reporting illegal goings-on at the iconic eatery, including hiring undocumented workers, sexual-orientation harassment, and wage and hour violations.

The lawsuit, which names Versailles and its owner, Felipe A. Valls Sr., as defendants, was filed this past Friday on behalf of former Versailles general manager Rigoberto Hernandez and Adriam Mena, a former waiter there. The suit lists numerous charges the two men claim they witnessed during their time at the restaurant, which attracts some of Miami's top politicians. Hernandez claims the restaurant's human resources officer and co-owner, Janet Valls, said that "she could make the undocumented workers 'disappear' if they were ever investigated by immigration authorities."

See also: Versailles Cited For 52 Safety Violations During Routine Inspection

Short Order called Versailles and was referred to Valls Group Inc., which serves as the restaurant's corporate office. No one was available for comment there, so we sent a follow-up email. We will update this post when we receive a reply. The restaurant has not, to our knowledge, been fined or cited by any federal or state agency in regard to the allegations mentioned in the lawsuit.

UPDATED: Reynaldo Velazquez of FordHarrison, LLP, who is representing Versailles Restaurant and Felipe Valls Sr., issued the following statement:

Versailles Restaurant, Felipe Valls, Sr. and its owners deny all allegations of unlawful conduct made by two former employees who were terminated for misconduct. Versailles and its owners are prepared to and will vigorously defend the allegations in the complaint that was presented to the media today. Although the owners very much want to speak to the media to address these allegations, they have been instructed by me not to speak to the press about matters in litigation until the case is resolved. Versailles Restaurant and its owners will address all of the allegations in the appropriate forum, which is in a court of law as opposed to litigating this matter in the media. Until then, there will be no further public comment about this case other than what i contained in this statement."

Hernandez also claims some members of Versailles' upper management manipulated point-of-sale (POS) data to over-report restaurant workers' tips in an attempt to "evade state and federal wage and hour minimum wage requirements and to falsely understate restaurant cash income for state and federal income tax reporting purposes."

In addition, Hernandez and Mena allege Versailles owner Felipe Valls Sr. and his son, Felipe Valls Jr., made remarks about their masculinity, "making fun of the colorful way Hernandez dressed and that Mena should stop walking in an effeminate manner."

According to the lawsuit, Valls also "falsely and maliciously accused Hernandez of having a sexual relationship with Mena" and accused the men of conspiring to steal cash from the business by excessively voiding and discounting customer purchases. The two men also say they were demoted, suspended, and threatened with arrest before eventually being terminated.

The lawsuit also alleges it was a regular practice of Versailles to void and discount customer charges to prominent members of the community, naming Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Letinen, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart as examples.

Hernandez and Mena are seeking compensation for loss of back pay and benefits as well as damages for emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of dignity and punitive damages. One of their attorneys, Pelayo M. Duran, is encouraging any tipped employees of Versailles to come forward with information about the case by calling 305-266-9780.

Versailles made the news last month when the restaurant was cited for 52 health code violations. And in 2012, seven women were arrested at the Miami International Airport Versailles location after allegedly stealing money from the till.

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Location Info

Versailles Restaurant

3555 SW 8th St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant


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29 comments
Kelly Anne Connery
Kelly Anne Connery

My son choked on a huge piece of hard plastic inside the fish fritters....I'm happy to hear this!

Rosa Palomino
Rosa Palomino

Move on New Times because your bias is getting old....

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

Typical New Times to keep reporting on the same story

miamiownsyou
miamiownsyou

jee cubans involved in fraud , who do you think wrote the book of how to fraud insurance companies and the irs cubans duh

germanasenso121
germanasenso121

This article is lacking in taste! This would be like the Village Voice attacking Katz' Deli!

cubanrestaurantblog
cubanrestaurantblog

I've been going to this place for years and it's really a politically neutral place and has always accepted all different types of people, genders, creeds and politics.  Yes it has been a political hotbed for many years but there has been only good things happening at this restaurant.  They only want to serve up the best Cuban coffee in Miami and dole out the best standard Cuban dishes at a price that is hard to beat anywhere in Miami.  These types of lawsuits come and go but this restaurant has been a star of Miami Cuban culture for years and will continue for years to come.

Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

if you hire undocumented workers.illegal workers ! you should lose your license !

Roxana Gosney
Roxana Gosney

We'll its a Cuban Republican Restaurant and we are not longer a Cuban American there is Southamericans and Central American dahhh

Ilene Feinman
Ilene Feinman

Well, Bill, I was rather naive about that as a kid. Quite political in other ways; e.g. Wynn Dixie and UFW pickets, antiwar, etc. Just did not know about Versailles and the RW Cubans…. well, I don't think my dinners there as a kid did much to develop their assets! hahahaha better food down 8th street anyway IMHO.

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

I've been going to the place for five decades, was out there this past weekend, and will continue to go. So suck it!

pipoenespanol
pipoenespanol

manda pinga...se jodio Versailles, fokit....ahora pa'la carreta a joder la pita


Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Not surprising, but I note some facts amongst what is likely to be a political shitstorm, 1) 52 health code violations? that's high for a place like Versailles. 2) Potential EEOC violations re: Employment? this is a complex area of the law, with shifting burdens of proof between employee and employer. 3) its safe to assume politicians will avoid Versailles for the foreseeable future. All in all , a very interesting case, I will follow it with interest. Expect no resolution for years, right now, the only goal of Versailles and the Valls family is to get this case OFF the headlines, and speaking of which, how come the Miami Herald didn't cover it? Uhmmmmm, should we make some calls?

DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

Restaurant workers are vulnerable to exploitation due to the work standards in certain parts of the restaurant overworked and underpaid,Unsafe/Unhealthy working Conditions usually 12 hour shifts   with no breaks. No sick day, No unemployment, No worker compensation no right. if you say something you get fired. If somebody is willing to work for less they replace you.

Bill Brock
Bill Brock

Ilene, its always been a RW hangout, and a hangout for "heroes" like terrorist airline bombers Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada and their ilk.

Ilene Feinman
Ilene Feinman

Bummer. Fond memories.... Long before it was politicians hang out though

Seán Schauseil
Seán Schauseil

Not surprised when that's where all the republicans hang out during the election...

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@cubanrestaurantblog That would be your take as a customer, what you don't see are the behind the scenes issues. I mean look at Wal-Mart, the Federal Govt. busted them for similar hiring practices of illegal immigrants and wage issues. As for sexual orientation harassment ? That goes on anywhere, and when I say that, it can be anything from light joking/kidding around to intentionally mean and abusive harassment. For the restaurant industry this is standard practice. That way for decades before and it will be that way for decades to come.The human race has little hope of ever evolving into this utopia where everyone has tolerance for another. Lawyers are standing in line to profit from these type of lawsuits.

The Dolphins locker room issues are the start of it all, creating a climate of litigation and change ? I wouldn't be surprised if Martin, after his NFL career, isn't involved in the legal aspect of this somehow ? As I understand it, he's well connected thru his own family and his own case of "victimization" puts him in a position to profit from this type of litigation going forward ?

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