Gordo Taqueria, which has five popular locations around the San Francisco Bay Area, has agreed to pay its workers $690,000 in a class-action lawsuit over allegations of wage violations. According to a news report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the case is the latest in a string of similar labor cases involving high-profile Bay Area restaurants, the result of a long-term effort by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office to strengthen protections for workers and collect lost wages.
Unpaid Overtime and Mishandling Tips
In January, Rangoon Ruby’s owners agreed to a settlement that would pay more than 300 workers $4 million in wages and penalties. Last year, La Taqueria paid its workers $500,000 in a similar settlement. A former dishwasher, Jose Martinez, who worked at a Berkeley restaurant from 2013 to 2015, filed a class-action lawsuit against Gordo.
Martinez filed complaints with San Francisco’s Legal Aid at Work and later filed a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit represented a class of 240 workers who alleged they were receiving their tips only as a lump sum once a year rather than at the end of the day or pay period, as required under California law. The workers also alleged that the restaurant did not pay them all the overtime they were due.
The claims made by the workers at Gordo are similar to many in the restaurant industry. Most complaints alleged unpaid overtime, improper distribution of tips, minimum wage violations, inadequate rest breaks, and retaliation against workers who speak up against these illegal activities. In 2014, the Department of Labor estimated that wage theft violations caused California workers to lose $22.5 million in income each week.
Protecting Your Rights
If you are a worker in the restaurant industry or any industry who is being exploited by your employer, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. The good news is you won’t have to do this alone. An experienced California employment lawyer can help you through the process, whether it’s filing a complaint against your employer with the Department of Labor or helping you and your co-workers file a class-action lawsuit.
While it might be difficult for one person or one worker to hold a corporation’s feet to the fire, when you band together with your co-workers and form a “class,” it becomes possible. Contact an experienced class-action attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.