Scott Holland Jun. 24, 2016, 10:43am

One man is suing El Milagro, one of the region’s largest suppliers of tortillas, on behalf of “hundreds or thousands” of similarly situated Illinois workers in a class action complaint filed June 13 in Cook County Circuit Court, saying the company didn't abide by the law in how it paid workers for unused vacation time at the end of their time with the company.

Jose Solorzano worked for a short time at El Milagro’s North Riverside location and said he and others were not fully compensated for accrued vacation pay upon their termination over a period of 10 years. El Milagro is a wholesale manufacturer of tortillas and also owns and operates restaurants like the one that employed Solorzano from October 2014 to June 2015. His various job duties included cooking, washing dishes and cleaning the restaurant, the lawsuit said. 

According to its website, El Milagro operates six stores and taquerias in Chicago, North Riverside, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga. The website boasts that El Milagro, which has been making tortillas and related food products since 1950, has grown to hold a “dominant position” among tortilla makers and distributors in the Midwest. 

The company’s vacation policy, per Solorzano’s complaint, is to grant a week of paid leave after a year of employment, with the amount of paid time off increasing over subsequent years of employment. Solorzano said he and potential class members did earn vacation pay while they worked. However, their final paychecks came up short. 

Under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, vacation pay is supposed to vest as it is earned. But Solorzano said he was not fully paid for unused vacation time as part of his final compensation. 

Solorzano formally alleged one count, a violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. The class would include anyone who worked at El Milagro since June 13, 2006, who did not collect a prorated share of earned vacation pay as part of their final compensation, a group of other potential plaintiffs Solorzano’s lawsuit estimated could number in the thousands. 

In addition to class certification, Solorzano seeks the monetary equivalent of all earned vacation pay due him and other class members, statutory damages as codified in the Wage act, a declaration the company’s vacation policy violates the Act, an enjoinder keeping El Milagro from violating the Act in the future as well as legal fees. 

Representing Solorzano and the putative class of additional plaintiffs in this action are attorneys Alvar Ayala, Christopher J. Williams and Neil Kelley of Workers’ Law Office, Chicago.

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