‘Vermin in the kitchen;’ former employee sues TL Maxwell’s and owner Terry Maxwell

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A former employee of TL Maxwell’s in Downtown Bakersfield is suing the restaurant and its owner – a former Bakersfield city councilman – for allegedly illegal working conditions and firing her in retaliation for her complaints, according to court documents. 

Cristal Del Toro alleges between early October 2017 and March, the restaurant, located near the intersection of 17th Street and Chester Avenue, and its owner, Terry Maxwell, routinely violated health and safety regulations, regularly employed people living in the country illegally, violated state meal and rest break laws, and did not properly compensate her for working overtime. 

Some of the alleged health code violations include “vermin in the kitchen, vermin on the food shelves, and use of dirty and broken kitchen equipment,” and even serving “rotten food with mold” to patrons, according to the lawsuit. 

Del Toro also accuses Maxwell of wrongfully terminating her in retaliation for continually complaining about working conditions during her employment, Maxwell allegedly telling her she “belonged in a corporate restaurant,” according to the lawsuit. 

Maxwell refused to comment on the allegations.

According to the Kern County Department of Public Health’s Safe Diner website, TL Maxwell’s has an A rating as of its most recent health inspection in April, but the March inspection found a dead rodent in the restaurant’s basement, along with rodent droppings.

Del Toro is asking for financial compensation for “physical and emotional distress,” as well as “loss of earnings, loss of employment benefits, injury to reputation, loss of opportunity, and other damages.” She is also asking for punitive damages against Maxwell. 

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