The hits keep coming for Bow Truss Coffee. A group of 10 of the coffee chain’s former employees have filed a class-action lawsuit today against Bow Truss and founder Phil Tadros over unpaid overtime and tips, delayed payment, and failure to pay for health insurance after collecting premiums from paychecks. It’s the same group that walked off work last month that led to the closure of the 10 coffee shops.
The group cites Tadros’ mismanagement of the company, as Bow Truss “routinely failed to pay plaintiffs,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit didn’t ask for a specific dollar amount, but asked the court for payment of the missing wages. Attorneys Colin Cameron and Scott Kane are confident that they will find more workers to add as plaintiffs. Kane estimated that Tadros owes at least $50,000 in damages.
“I stayed working there for the same reasons you stay in an abusive relationship,” said Ben Creech, who worked at Bow Truss from May to June last year. “I thought it would get better.”
It didn’t for Creech, who said he is still missing tips. He also said that his paychecks routinely bounced, and that at one point he couldn’t pay for penicillin to treat his strep throat; he didn’t have health insurance coverage as he thought. He was eventually fired from his job, but he was told by Bow Truss management that he was the only one with these sort of problems.
Creech and others assembled on Monday morning in front of the shuttered Bow Truss at 406 N. Wells St. to make their announcement. State Sen. Daniel Biss, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), and Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22) joined them. Kane called January’s walkout a “well-coordinated act of solidarity.”
Cook County Commissioner and former mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia appeared and made statements in English and Spanish. Latinos are often taken advantage when it comes to wage theft. Garcia touted the need for Cook County and the city to raise benefits and wages across the board.
Meanwhile, Tadros was shocked by the notion of a news conference: “I think the bully Phil Tadros news cycle is getting really old,” Tadros texted. He claimed that he doesn’t owe any employees pay, something Kane disputes: “Someone should remind Phil that late payment is no payment.”
There’s no word if Tadros paid any interest on those wages for late payments. He wrote, via text, that he believes the workers are teaming up with Marcus Lemonis on the lawsuit. Kane said there was no such coordinated effort. The two employees at Monday’s news conference had departed Bow Truss before Lemonis showed interest In the company. Tadros sought out a $3.25 million deal with the host of TV’s The Profit, but that deal fell through and mudslinging has ensued.
The Wells Street location was closed during the news conference, but Tadros said it remains in operation. Both Tadros and Lemonis have now filed dueling lawsuits against each other. Tadros claimed Lemonis was trying to devalue the company, while Lemonis has accused Tadros of hiding financials.
Another worker listed in the lawsuit, Trumaine Hardy, said he’s sad to see how Bow Truss has fallen. He sought Bow Truss out to learn more about the industry: “I wanted to make a career out of coffee.”
“To see this happen is unbelievable,” Hardy added.
Take a look at a preliminary copy of the workers’ complaint below.