Tacolicious, the growing taco enterprise from founder Joe Hargrave that now has five Bay Area locations including three in SF, is opting to settle out of court a lawsuit originally brought by two former line cooks alleging that they were denied overtime and legally mandated meal breaks, and had improper deductions from their paychecks. As the Chronicle reports, the lawsuit, which became a class action, covers all current and former employees who worked at one of the locations between from August 14, 2010 and July 11, 2016.
The suit was brought by the cooks in 2015, with both claiming that they were denied overtime pay and were also not paid out for their overtime when they both chose to quit the restaurant. In court documents, Tacolicious says it "is not liable for any of the claims" brought by the former employees, though Hargrave admits to the Chronicle, "Our loose record keeping at the beginning opened us up to the lawsuit which we recently settled," and he says "we’ve had to learn on the job" about that record keeping since the business rapidly expanded from its Ferry Building food stand in 2009, taking over Hargrave's former restaurant Laiola on Chestnut Street, and soon opening on Valencia Street thereafter.
Hargrave tells Eater, "We chose to settle because if we chose to fight it, we’d go out of business. There’s nothing we can do about it. So it is what it is, but things aren’t all they appear."
Such wage theft cases have become a bit popular of late, with local mini-chain Burma Superstar facing a similar suit, and newcomer Babu Ji recently announcing the closure of their New York restaurant due to such a lawsuit.
Hargrave derisively points to the law firm that represented the cooks, who are taking a 30 percent cut out of the settlement, or $270,000 which he says is 30 times what the average employee will receive, or approximately $9,000 apiece.
The settlement will still need to be approved in San Francisco Superior Court, and a hearing is scheduled for next week, March 15.
In addition to running the Tacolicious chain, which now has locations in Palo Alto and San Jose, Hargrave also co-owns Bar San Pancho and the tequila bar Mosto.*
* This post has been corrected to show that chef Telmo Faria no longer has any involvement with Tacolicious's business.