Former Workers Announce Resolution of Legal Claims Against La Taqueria

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July 3, 2018

Contact:

Christina So, christinaso@advancingjustice-alc.org, 415-848-7728

 

Former Workers Announce Resolution of

Legal Claims Against La Taqueria

San Francisco, CA – Former workers at La Taqueria, the famous, award-winning restaurant in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, announced the final conclusion of legal claims that have led to payment of approximately $600,000 in overtime, sick pay, health care contributions, penalties and other amounts owed to over 30 affected current and former employees of the restaurant. The legal claims have also led to the restaurant’s correction of contested past wage and hour practices.

“What I’ve learned more than anything is that if you stay quiet, you can’t change anything,” said Cristina, a former employee who organized her fellow workers at La Taqueria. “It was hard, but I knew that if we didn’t do something, the problems would continue. Now people who continue to work there have benefits that they didn’t have before. You have to carry the strength you have with you so that you go out with what you want and to fight for what you want.”

In 2016, a few current and former workers at La Taqueria approached Young Workers United (YWU) about their employment conditions. With YWU’s support, the workers began a workplace campaign to demand back pay owed and to seek changes in the restaurant’s workplace practices. Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus provided legal support for the workers during the campaign, as well as representation on claims filed with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office and the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE).  

The enforcement agencies conducted workplace wide investigations that resulted in the assessment and citation of amounts owed to current and former employees.  Though the restaurant paid the assessment and citation in full, the restaurant laid off two of the workers who had filed the claims with Labor Commissioner and OLSE. To resolve those retaliation claims, the restaurant agreed to offer the workers reinstatement, pay the workers full back pay from the date of the alleged retaliatory lay off, plus thousands of dollars in retaliation penalties.

La Taqueria also agreed to post a notice at work informing current employees about protections against retaliation, read the posting out loud during a staff meeting, and pay for a third-party workplace rights training during work time for all restaurant staff. The workers received the retaliation settlement checks last week.

“It was inspiring that this campaign and case were led by single working moms who were committed to winning back wages, paid sick leave and health care contributions not only for their own families, but for the families of other La Taqueria workers. Those are important and critical protections for any worker, but particularly for those supporting children or older family members,” said Winnie Kao, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.  “Even when the worst fears about retaliation came to pass and they were laid off, they stood strong. We were proud to help them secure a settlement that shows you can push back on retaliation and win.”

“In this political moment when working families, women, immigrants and communities of color are under attack, workers at La Taqueria courageously spoke up to make their workplace better for all workers,” said Ilana Master, Campaign Director at Young Workers United. “When faced with injustice, workers must speak out to fight for dignity to their workplaces.”

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, Advancing Justice – ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Young Workers United, formed in 2002, is a multi-racial and bilingual membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of jobs for young and immigrant workers. We raise standards in the low-wage service sector in San Francisco through worker and student organizing, grass-roots advocacy, leadership development, and public education.

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