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Treasure Island sued again by fired workers; attorneys seek class-action status

Former Treasure Island workers protest in Lakeview

Former Treasure Island workers hold a protest in front of the grocery store in Lakeview. | Pat Nabong/For The Sun-Times.

Ten workers recently laid off from Treasure Island Foods have taken legal action against the company in a lawsuit their attorneys hope will be granted class-action status.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Chicago, alleges the company violated the state and federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification acts for not giving workers at its seven Chicago-area locations 60-day notice before laying them off and closing shop.

Workers also allege Treasure Island violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act for failing to pay employees for accrued but unused paid time off.

The former workers who filed the lawsuit are Mark Gossett, Sandra Roman, Telia Wilson, Timikii Coburn, Antonia Morales, Antonio Munoz, Jesse Lofton, David Leon, Kevin Jackson and Lorenzo Escamilla Jr.

The workers’ attorneys, Karen Engelhardt and Alejandro Caffarelli, estimate the allegations levied against Treasure Island in the suit apply to some 400 former Treasure Island employees and are seeking class-action status.

Named defendants are three corporate entities that operated Treasure Island stores as well as chief executive Maria Kamberos and president Christ Kamberos. Patrick Cavanaugh, a partner in High Ridge Partners, the liquidation firm now managing the company’s assets, was also named in the suit.

Arthur Stamas, attorney for the Kamberos family, could not be reached for comment. Treasure Island vice president Bob Zenawick could also not be reached.

Sandra Roman, a Treasure Island worker for 22 years

Sandra Roman, a Treasure Island worker for 22 years, said, “Without notice, they let us go and didn’t even give us a paycheck.” | Pat Nabong/For The Sun-Times.

Thursday’s lawsuit is the third filed against Treasure Island since it abruptly told its employees on Sept. 26 it would be closing all of its stores within three weeks.

Anthony Marano Co., a produce wholesaler, sued Treasure Island on Oct. 2 , saying it hasn’t been paid for more than $453,000 worth of produce.

Three days later, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s Local 1546 sued the grocery chain for allegedly firing 28 of its members without proper notice and or pay for accrued vacation days.

On Wednesday, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) held a meeting at the Catholic Theological Union to address concerns over the closing of the Treasure Island store in Hyde Park.

Hairston told the crowd of three dozen community members and former Treasure Island workers she believed the company’s actions were “disrespectful” and “hurtful.”

Also in attendance were representatives of the University of Chicago, which owns the building on E. 55th Street where Treasure Island operated one of its stores. They said they were “blindsided” by the company’s decision to pack up and leave.

“Their decision to leave was in violation of the lease,” Angie Marks, associate vice president of real estate operations for the university, said.