Oakland Restaurant Settles Wage Theft Lawsuit With Former Workers

Certain types of workplaces are more prone to wage theft, and the restaurant industry is one of them. Not being paid minimum wage, being forced to work without any breaks and not receiving overtime pay are just some ways restaurant workers may experience wage and hour violations. While wage theft is often reported at fast food chains, it can also occur in high-end establishments.

A long-running wage theft lawsuit between the owners of an upscale Mexican restaurant in Oakland, California, and its former workers was settled for an undisclosed amount in April 2022. The class action lawsuit initially had three plaintiffs, but it was later expanded to include 263 restaurant workers.

A team of Bay Area restaurant industry veterans opened Calavera in 2015. According to the lawsuit, the restaurant committed many labor violations. Workers were not paid minimum wage, not paid for overtime or meal breaks, and not reimbursed for work-related expenses. Restaurant owners also failed to provide itemized wage statements and pay workers their full wages upon termination or resignation.

A former prep cook, sous chef and dishwasher at Calavera sued the restaurant in April 2016 to seek compensation for lost pay. One of the plaintiffs, prep cook Flor Crisostomo, said she regularly worked 12-hour shifts with no breaks. After Crisostomo was fired without getting a two-week notice, she noticed that other employees were also experiencing alleged wage violations. She then started seeking legal help to bring a case against her former employer.

Crisostomo said she hoped the lawsuit against Calavera raises awareness about labor violations that often occur in the restaurant industry. The case took several years to resolve, given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the lawsuit was settled, the restaurant owners did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Under the terms of the settlement, workers were required to agree to a non-disparagement clause, which means they are barred from publicly criticizing the restaurant. While such clauses are common in wage theft lawsuits, critics say they are harmful as they allow employers to hide alleged labor violations from the public.

If you have experienced wage theft in the workplace, you do not have to continue tolerating the unlawful treatment. The experienced Oakland employment lawyers at Erlich Law Firm are here to help you stand up for your rights.

Discuss your situation with an attorney to find out about the possibility of getting compensation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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