Fired workers say Treasure Island Foods owes them 60-days pay after abrupt store closures

By Jonathan Bilyk | Oct 12, 2018

A group of employees of Chicago’s recently shuttered Treasure Island supermarket chain have delivered their former employer with a class action lawsuit, accusing the company of violating their rights under state and federal laws entitling them to either a 60-day notice that the company was closing its doors, or a check equivalent to 60 days’ pay and other owed benefits.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 11 in Chicago federal court, through attorneys with the firms of Allison Slutsky & Kennedy P.C., and Caffarelli & Associates Ltd., both of Chicago, ostensibly on behalf of as many as 700 Treasure Island workers, who lost their jobs when the stores abruptly closed in early October.

Named plaintiffs in the potential class action include Mark A. Gossett, Sandra Roman, Telia P. Wilson, Timikii Coburn, Antonia Morales, Antonio Munoz, Jesse Lofton, David Z. Leon, Kevin M. Jackson and Lorenzo Escamilla Jr. According to the complaint, each of the named plaintiffs worked in various positions at Treasure Island stores in Chicago and Wilmette, with hire dates from 2000-2018.

Treasure Island’s supermarkets have been a part of the Chicago retail and business landscape since the 1960s. The chain operated six stores in Chicago, in the Lakeview, Hyde Park, Streeterville, Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, and another outlet in suburban Wilmette.

The family-owned company’s website described the stores as “Chicago’s culinary and grocery inspiration since 1963.” The company boasted itself as "America's Most European Supermaket."

However, in late September, Treasure Island employees received a notice from the company, informing them of the stores’ imminent closure, to be completed in October.

“After more than 55 years of success in servicing the Chicagoland communities, Treasure Island Foods Inc. and the Kamberos family have made the very difficult business decision to cease operations and permanently close our stores,” the notice said. “As a result, your employment with the Company (sic) is ended today. You will of course be paid for all work performed through your last day of work.”

The notice said the task of closing the stores would be completed during a 14-day period from Oct. 12.

However, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege the company’s decision to abruptly close and terminate its workforce violates federal and state laws., which require a 60-day notice before mass layoffs or closings resulting in mass terminations.

Further, the plaintiffs assert the federal and state laws require employers who don’t provide 60-days notice to instead pay their employees an amount equivalent to 60-days pay, with benefits. Treasure Island did not do so, the complaint said.

The plaintiffs have asked the judge to expand their lawsuit to include all Treasure Island employees who “were terminated within 30 days of Sept. 26” and did not receive the prescribed 60-days notice.

They also asked to create a second plaintiffs’ class to include all Treasure Island employees who they claim were shorted their accrued vacation and sick time when they were terminated.

They are asking for the court to order Treasure Island to pay the workers “an amount equal to all unpaid wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay, accrued vacation pay, accrued PTO, pension and 401(k) contributions, and other benefits which should have been paid during the 60 days after notice of termination.”

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Organizations in this Story

Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy, PC. Caffarelli & Associates Ltd. Treasure Island Foods, Inc. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

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