After announcing that it would go out of business in the coming weeks, Treasure Island Foods is being sued by a produce wholesaler for unpaid deliveries amounting to just over $453,000.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, was brought against the family-owned grocery chain by the Anthony Marano Co., which alleges that Treasure Island and Magazi Inc. — which operates the grocer’s Wilmette location — did not pay for produce sold and delivered to the grocer between July 1 and Oct. 1. Total due: $453,062.30
Maria Kamberos, president and CEO of Treasure Island Foods, and Christ Kamberos Jr., president, are also named as defendant in the suit.
Marano alleges that owners of Treasure Island Foods and Magazi “have not disputed the debt in any way but have failed to make payment,” which violates the prompt payment and trust provisions of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
Representatives from both companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jorge Mujica, with labor rights group Arise Chicago, said that the organization has started reaching out to workers to help them get paid for 60 days of work. Under the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, employers with 75 or more full-time employees are required to give workers and state and local government officials 60 days advance notice of a plant closing or mass layoff.
Officials with Treasure Island did not respond to calls.
Mujica said there are currently two possible outcomes. The first: Arise requests payment only for the employees they’re able to get in contact with. The second would be a class action lawsuit against Treasure Island, but “the workers will decide what route they’d like to take.”
Arise set up a dedicated phone line for workers at 312-715-8141 so they can be notified of meetings and next steps.
“Worker’s rights have to be respected and since there’s very few of them, they have to be protected,” Mujica said. “There’s no excuse for [Treasure Island] to break the law.”
A person who identified themselves as a former Treasure Island Foods employee said that employees at their location found out the company was closing on Friday through word of mouth. They asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.
Not all employees received the letter that was posted on social media on Friday, the employee said.
“We had absolutely no official warning,” the former employee said in an email to the Sun-Times. “Employees that have been with the company for a long amount of years were not offered any type of severance package. All of the buyers were abruptly let go in the middle of the day. All were extremely shocked and distraught to tears. Although this family has serviced many communities over so many years, we (former employees) don’t feel that they should just be able to walk away from this with their heads held high and without being held accountable for treating loyal employees so poorly.”