Employees of a Lincolnwood bakery who say their rights were violated when the business closed abruptly will continue their lawsuit, even though owners have reportedly offered to issue final paychecks and compensate for remaining vacation time.
Workers from Rolf's Patisserie have been working with labor advocacy group Arise Chicago on a class-action lawsuit alleging the bakery violated the federal WARN Act, which requires employers with over 100 workers to provide at least 60 days notice of a workplace closure or 60 days severance pay.
Nearly 150 former employees are alleging that they received no notification of the bakery's sudden closure on Dec. 11, until one worker saw an announcement on the company's website, and their wages were cut off as abruptly as their employment, according to Arise. When they tried to cash their final payments, many saw the checks bounce.
Labor attorney Thomas Geoghegan, whose firm is representing the employees, said he was advised that the bakery "will pay final checks and vacation pay," he told TribLocal. But Geoghegan says the amount offered does not account for the costs of penalties paid by many employees who cashed bounced checks, or the damages accrued by not notifying employees of the store's closure in advance of the end date.
He estimated those costs total in the millions of dollars, he told TribLocal. He says his clients plan to follow through with their class action lawsuit.
"We all know this is a bad economy. But the workers and their families are the ones who suffer," Adam Kader, director of Arise Chicago's Workers Center, said in a statement. "It's a microcosm of working families' pain under the recession. Workers who gave their lives to this company have been shoved into the street with only a check marked 'insufficient funds' in their pockets."
See video from the rally held by workers outside the bakery last week above.