September 29, 2020

Former Kellys owners agree to pay over $1.3 million to settle wage theft suit

Kellys Brew Pub and Restaurant

The former owners of Kellys Brew Pub and Restaurant agreed to pay $1.375 million to settle a wage theft lawsuit that has been winding its way through the legal system for years.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, which represented the workers, announced the settlement on Tuesday morning. In 2019, a state district court judge ruled that the company did not follow Albuquerque’s ordinance regarding a tipped minimum wage between 2013 and 2016.

Kellys Brew Pub has since been sold to a new company, which was not involved in the lawsuit.

“This is money that should have been in our hands in the first place. It was ours. We earned it,” Bianca Garcia, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “If that money had never been taken from us, it could have made differences in where some of us are today. Those funds may have helped someone pay off a student loan. Buy a car. Move to a better situation. Support a family. But it was deliberately kept from us. We will continue to fight for what is rightfully ours.”

According to the Center, the settlement said the former owners will pay $1 million of the settlement within 30 days and will pay the remaining $375,000 at a later date.

Albuquerque’s minimum wage ordinance says that businesses that are found to not pay the required wage must pay triple the withheld wages and the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Benjamin Chavez ruled against the former owners of Kellys in 2019 and approved the settlement.

“We encourage every employee who is a victim of wage theft to come forward,” said Shane Youtz, an attorney at Youtz & Valdez, P.C., who also represented plaintiffs on the class action suit. “You deserve to collect every dollar you worked for and are owed.“