Fight the Good Fight

Some people accept life's little frustrations. Roy T. Devaney isn't some people.

And his persistence paid off - to a point. A few months ago, after the U.S. Department of Labor received a letter from Ros-Lehtinen asking why no one had responded to her constituent's request for action, two investigators came knocking on the door of the Kenmore's former owner. They demanded that Norman Schwartz open his financial records for their perusal, or else they'd come back with a subpoena.

"Needless to say, it scared the shit out of me," says Devaney's ex-boss. "He's malicious. He just won't stop. He goes after everybody," Schwartz adds, with what sounds like a mixture of paranoia and annoyance. "You always get this feeling he's out to get you. I think he enjoys this game. It's the pursuit."

Devaney's claims against the Kenmore and Schwartz were rejected by each investigation, on the grounds that the hotel falls into a category of businesses that do not have to pay minimum wage to all employees. But Devaney kept on plugging, seeking out new people to enlist in his quest for justice. Letters and court documents are stored in cracker boxes scattered around his apartment. A copy of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1936 sits on the floor under a table, amid assorted legal papers and a half-empty bottle of gin.

"You've got to write somebody," explains Devaney, who admits that, physically, he hasn't been quite the same since he contracted the Hong Kong flu 23 years ago. "I'm allowed the privilege of at least bitching. I've got that.

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