Nevada County restaurant owners settle suit with former employees |

Nevada County restaurant owners settle suit with former employees

The owners of four Mexican restaurants in Nevada County have settled a lawsuit alleging wage issues with former employees, to the tune of $225,000.

The civil suit was filed in August 2017 by Grass Valley attorney Erik Christensen against the Nungaray family, who own El Agave taquerias in Auburn and Lake of the Pines, Mayas Authentic Mexican Food in Grass Valley, Mi Pueblo Taqueria in Nevada City, Sunrise Cafe in Lake of the Pines, and Pollo Asado Mr. Jimmy in Auburn.

The lawsuit claimed employees often worked overtime hours without being paid overtime wages, were consistently denied meal breaks and rest breaks, and retaliated against employees trying to use paid sick leave. Wage statements regularly were inaccurate, and the Nungarays often kept tips left for staff by patrons, the suit claimed.

The complaint was amended several times over the course of the last year and a half, and also was filed as a class action suit, according to court records.

Timothy Nelson, the attorney for the Nungarays, argued that naming multiple restaurants and defendants was an abuse of the class action process. None of the named plaintiffs worked for all of the restaurants, Nelson noted, adding they should not all be lumped together.

“This is a motley crew of individuals who worked for different restaurants and different managers suing all the restaurants and certain managers on a collective basis, even though there is no employment relationship between many of the plaintiffs and many of the defendants,” Nelson wrote.

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderson sustained Nelson’s objections, but allowed the plaintiffs to file a new amended complaint.

That complaint alleged multiple causes of action: failure to provide employment notices upon hire; failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements; failure to pay minimum wage; failure to pay overtime wages; fraud related to conversion of gratuities; failure to keep accurate gratuity logs; failure to provide meal periods; failure to provide rest periods; failure to pay all wages earned upon discharge; and unlawful and/or unfair business practices.

In early February, the plaintiffs asked to dismiss their lawsuit after a settlement was reached. According to the stipulated judgment, the Nungarays agreed to pay $225,000 to be divided among the five plaintiffs. Details as to how the settlement would be parceled out were not released.

Attorney Craig Diamond, who co-represented the plaintiffs, said he was not at liberty to comment due to a non-disclosure agreement. Nelson did not return a call, and Francisca Nungaray declined to comment.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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