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June 19, 2021

Suit against councilman alleges unpaid overtime

GILROY—Two former employees of a towing company owned and operated by Gilroy Councilman Dion Bracco have lawyered up and are suing him for nearly $700,000 in overtime they allege they were never paid. Rafael Torres and Angel Fletes, who worked for Bracco’s Towing and Transport for six and seven years, respectively, as tow truck drivers, also allege other labor law violations in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
“(Torres and Fletes) routinely worked in excess of eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, all without receiving proper wages without overtime and/or double-time pay,” reads the complaint filed by San Jose-based attorney Alexander Hennessy.
Hennessy alleges in the document that Bracco “prevented” the duo from taking 30-minute lunch breaks and “routinely denied” 10-minute rest breaks throughout the day.
“It’s a wild claim and the truth will come out,” Bracco told the Dispatch when reached for comment. “I treated these guys really well and they’re going around making me look like the bad guy.”
Torres worked for the Gilroy-based towing company between 2008 and March 2015, and Fletes was employed there from 2007 to December 2014, according to the complaint.
Bracco said he’s prohibited from explaining how and why Torres was terminated from the towing company, but added “he’s been trying to extort money from me for a while now.”
In the complaint, Hennessy says both former employees received a paycheck every two weeks for $1,200—but that the checks omitted commissions and payment for overtime hours. Hennessy argues in the complaint that Torres and Fletes didn’t qualify as employees exempt from overtime pay, and that they didn’t receive payment for extra hours worked.
Hennessy is seeking more than $351,000 in restitution and disgorgement for Torres and more than $319,000 for Fletes, plus interest and penalties associated with non-payment of overtime. He is also seeking a jury trial.
Bracco, who founded Bracco’s Towing and Transport in 1992 and has offices in Morgan Hill, Hollister and Gilroy, said the two former employees and their attorney tried to get other past employees to speak on the record about whether they were owed any unpaid overtime.
“They contacted 100 past employees and they told them all to get lost,” Bracco said. “This will all get sorted out in court.”

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