The Paseo owners were remarkably generous, they said, sometimes personally driving employees to dentist appointments, insisting they take breaks, paying them for taking sick days, and offering ample pay well beyond the minimum wage ($20 to $30 per hour) through a tip-sharing agreement.And, we hasten to point out, maybe that explains why there is hostility toward Kshama Sawant's $15/hr minimum wage law within the restaurant industry.
But "the family" who ran the kitchen [and now have sued Paseo], the workers alleged, were mean-spirited. Lopez said he left the restaurant and only agreed to come back after last March, once they had been fired. "I was worried about coming back to work while 'the family' was here," he said.So, where are we now? The owner of Paseo has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means the shop is finished. It will not re-open. Nine once-satisfied employees are out of jobs (and have to wait for the paychecks they've earned, while the bankruptcy proceeds). Seattle sandwich consumers have less choice, for now, anyway.
But some lawyers have work.
"This was the best management I've ever had in my life," said Camden Nixon, who has worked at the restaurant for several years. "We all really love it here and care about the owners. And we've been bummed that we're not still serving."
"Purely lies," said Valentine Lopez, an immigrant from Mexico who worked at Paseo for more than a decade, translated by a coworker, when asked about the claims of wage theft and discrimination. "I never felt like that," he said. "I felt like part of the family, and I would have left if I'd felt discriminated against."Which the four litigants could have done too. Taken their skills elsewhere, and enriched some other sandwich eaters. Everyone would have been happy. As opposed to what happened.
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