3 Petaluma teens allege wage theft by Subway franchisee

“They explained to me, ‘Come the future working day all dressed up in black, and you’re completely ready to function,’” Tapia reported.

Vargas educated herself, she stated. Then she properly trained Chavez, who arrived aboard shortly following.

They also say they weren’t offered breaks and were discouraged from going to the lavatory on company time.

Frequently, it was just a person or two minors masking the overall store, even late shifts that concerned closing up. That proposition anxious teenage girls at the 961 Lakeville Highway site, exactly where homeless adult males tended to congregate by a nearby grocery store.

“One time this man arrived up and commenced saying seriously inappropriate things to me, and I experienced to contact the police,” Vargas mentioned.

Camera observing their each move

There ended up cameras inside of the sandwich shop, and if an individual took a crack to consume or use the restroom, a camera’s red gentle would get started flashing, they explained. Absolutely sure ample, they would immediately get a textual content or cellphone simply call from Ayesh urging them to get back again to operate, together with a image grabbed from the keep camera.

The a few adolescents also complained of unsanitary circumstances at the Subways, which include cockroaches, yellowing walls and fridges that remained out of commission for up to three weeks. The pupils confirmed The Push Democrat photographs of wilting foods in show instances and a video clip of ants swarming above a kitchen area faucet.

“I was like ashamed of that,” Vargas claimed. “I did not really feel excellent if men and women had been coming and seeing the retail store that dirty. So often we’d close the retail store and clean up as speedy as we can.”

Paychecks delayed, bounce

The most tangible allegation, of system, is the wage theft.

Occasionally Crave Manufacturers only would not spend staff, the learners claimed. Other instances checks would get there after considerable delays. A employee would make a deposit, only to see the check out bounce and the dollars vanish from her bank account.

Chavez explained she worked for a person thirty day period — it was her initial task — and in no way designed a dime.

Workforce would pester Ayesh about their revenue via calls, texts and WhatsApp messages. If they received any response at all, it would typically be an justification and a promise to pay up — a promise that would go unfulfilled.

The victims weren’t just superior school students, the three women stated. At 1 point, there was a group chat among as numerous as 10 staff members, all complaining to administration about wages owed. The women no longer had access to individuals texts, Vargas claimed, mainly because Ayesh kicked them off the chat for agitating.

Very a great deal all of the shorted Subway workforce had been Latino, the three ladies explained.

“I assume they get Latinos since some of them, they really do not have papers,” Vargas mentioned. “And when they never fork out them, I truly feel like they get terrified to sue or one thing for the reason that they are afraid they are gonna get deported. Or they just don’t want to have any difficulties with the legislation.”

Eventually, she, Tapia and Chavez all gave up and stop, and so did other individuals. At 1 of the outlets she labored, Tapia stated, all five workers give up en masse, together with a manager.

Crave Makes located replacements, however. The store reopened.

Enterprise license queries

Robin Ferrari, an accountant in the City of Petaluma’s Finance Office, mentioned records present the 2620 Lakeville, 221 N. McDowell and 961 Lakeville stores ended up offered amongst May possibly 2021 and November 2021 — right before the a few San Antonio Superior college students worked there — and that the new proprietor(s) experienced never ever contacted the metropolis for a revised small business license.

Petaluma’s municipal code demands new proprietors to file an software prior to a company changes fingers, Ferrari said, and there are penalties for not submitting in a timely manner.

The metropolis contracts with a third celebration, Avenu Insights, to identify unlicensed businesses. Avenu’s communications staff did not answer to questions about any fines that may possibly have been levied at Crave Manufacturers.

Former unlawful practices

Records display this is not John Meza’s to start with brush with money accusations.

In 2011, he was sentenced in Contra Costa County Top-quality Court docket to 120 days in jail and $163,000 in fines for two felony counts related to tax evasion. Meza and his wife, Jessica, were being accused of failing to pay out $800,000 in profits, and opening a lender account utilizing phony Social Stability numbers to disguise earnings.

A Bay Region News Team tale at the time famous that Meza presently owned 7 Subway franchises by 2011.

As recently as November, the California Section of Tax and Charge Administration filed an extension for a tax lien of $226,000 in opposition to Meza.

The condition Division of Industrial Relations, which handles wage disputes, explained Crave Brands and MZS Enterprises have been the matter of 19 claims because Jan. 1, 2018. A division representative was not able to instantly confirm irrespective of whether the three San Antonio college students were incorporated in that range.

Twelve of the 19 situations (together with one in Santa Rosa) await the scheduling of settlement conferences or hearings, she mentioned. 1 of the other statements was settled in favor of the employee. The Department of Industrial Relations has submitted a lien against MZS Enterprises for that a person.

Meanwhile, all three of these girls remain unpaid.

Their Subway working experience, they claimed, turned a bitter lesson in the power employers have over small-wage personnel. But far better days ended up in advance. Lorenza Tapia now is effective at the El Roy foods truck, parked at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma.

“I really like it,” she mentioned. “I do not perform alone, I get the job done with people today. I have the appropriate to go to the bathroom. I can consider my breaks at the instances I’m supposed to.”

You can attain Staff Author Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or [email protected]. On Twitter @Skinny_Submit.