Working as a dishwasher may be the lowest rung on the restaurant ladder, but that doesn't mean employers can (legally) treat their workers like slaves. Of course, they do, but one NYC dishwasher is finally fighting back! Rafael Bernitt worked for three years as a dishwasher at one of the Patsy's pizza locations on East 60th Street, and the lawsuit he's filing against the restaurant's parent company describes Dickensian working conditions that are pretty much in line with what we've always imagined. According to court papers obtained by the Post, Patsy's is responsible for:

Some of the most deplorable conditions in this, or any other, city. Bernitt was forced to work between the coal burning ovens and the sinks, in stifling heat, with almost no ventilation, and in a puddle of hot water which constantly leaked from the pasta preparation area. When he wasn't washing dishes, he was expected to clean the bathrooms, carry boxes of food, repair equipment, and clean the kitchen. He was even on occasion made to shovel coal into the coal-burning stove."

And every morning he woke up in a hole in the ground, half an hour before he went to bed, with only a lump of cold poison for breakfast! A former manager confirms that dishwashers at Patsy's are indeed required to "work between 60 and 70 hours per week, with no vacation, sick or holiday pay." Bernitt says he was paid just $330 to $350 a week, in violation of minimum wage laws, and never received tips, workman's compensation or unemployment insurance. Now he's suing for damages in Manhattan federal court, and his lawyer calls Patsy's part of the "dark underbelly" of the NYC dining world.