SANTA FE ― Earlier this week, a group of workers filed a second lien in Santa Fe County against the owners of Shohko Café, a local Santa Fe restaurant that recently announced its closure, as part of a two-year fight to recoup nearly $116,000 in stolen wages, damages and other costs.
In February, a state judge in the First Judicial District Court ruled against the restaurant for violating the Santa Fe Living Wage Ordinance, New Mexico’s minimum wage laws and ordered the restaurant owners to pay workers approximately $60,000 in stolen wages and damages, following a trial held in July 2018.
“We will not allow our bosses to skip out on paying our hard-earned wages by closing the restaurant,” said Victor Matzir, a member of the Shohko Café Workers Committee and member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s United Worker Center who works as a cook at the restaurant and is owed $21,300 in stolen wages. “The restaurant may be closing but our court approved order to recoup our stolen wages remains open.”
The restaurant did not appeal the judge’s decision and announced via Facebook last week it would close its doors Saturday.
“Business owners who engage in wage theft are still accountable under the law whether the business is open or closed,” said Gabriela Ibañez Guzmán, staff attorney with Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s Worker Center who represented the workers. “Employers who pay their workers less than the minimum wage and fail to pay overtime will be held accountable.”
The workers’ lawsuit, originally filed in First Judicial District Court in April 2017, argued the restaurant violated the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act and paid less than the legally required time-and-half rate of pay for hours worked beyond forty hours each workweek, or overtime pay.
“Our fight is not over,” Wilmer said. “Alex” Gaytan, a member of the Shohko Café Workers Committee and member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido’s United Worker Center who works as a cook at the restaurant is owed $26,050 in stolen wages. “We have been in this fight for over two years and after our court win, we will not give up so easily, the future of our families is at stake.”
Carlos Quiñones, a private Santa Fe attorney in Santa Fe served as co-counsel in the lawsuit.