Gordo Taqueria agrees to pay $690,000 to settle class-action suit

Gordo Taqueria storefront
Taylor Vega/File

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Gordo Taqueria, a restaurant chain operating five locations in San Francisco, Berkeley and Albany, has agreed to pay a total of $690,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that the restaurant’s owners failed to abide by wage and labor laws, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

The settlement received preliminary approval in December and is scheduled to receive final approval April 2. According to Harry DeCourcy, the restaurant’s attorney, Gordo Taqueria categorically denies all the allegations in the complaint.

“Gordo Taqueria (“Gordo”) has served the Bay Area since the 1970s, and has always strived to serve great food and to be a great place to work,” DeCourcy said in an email. “When the class action complaint was filed at the end of 2016, Gordo and its counsel proactively engaged plaintiff’s counsel in negotiations and early alternative dispute resolution, and the parties worked to negotiate a deal that is believed to be fair to all parties.”

The lawsuit includes 240 current and former employees and was brought by former dishwasher and prep cook Jose Martinez, who worked at the restaurant’s College Avenue location in Berkeley from 2013 to 2015.

Martinez alleged in the complaint, filed in December 2016, that the restaurant failed to pay him and other workers legally required overtime, provide employees with legally required rest or meal breaks when working more than 10 hours a day and distribute tips in a timely manner. Instead, tips were distributed at the end of of the calendar year or periodically a few times throughout the year.

Carole Vigne, an attorney representing Martinez and the other plaintiffs in the case, said cash tips should legally be distributed at the end of every day, while credit card tips should be paid out every pay period, which can vary from restaurant to restaurant.

“We believe that cash tips should be distributed at the end of every day as soon as practical, perhaps the next morning,” Vigne said. “We think credit card tips are typically pulled out because it’s a little bit harder to distribute. … We think that’s probably why the legislature allows for a little bit more room.”

According to Vigne, the settlement is likely to receive final approval, and her law firm is currently in the process of notifying all the plaintiffs. The settlement should provide an average payout of $2,000 to each member of the suit, which is almost equivalent to an extra month of pay.

Vigne also said that because of the suit, Gordo Taqueria is now in better compliance with wage and labor laws, which she said is something she and the plaintiffs are satisfied with.

“It was something that was important to our client, and it was important to us as an organization advocating for worker and wage rights,” Vigne said. “We do think that the case has led to positive changes at the restaurant… We hope that it makes a difference in the lives of the workers.”

Jenny Weng is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.