One of the last NYC tortilla factories to be flattened by COVID, lawsuit

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The owner of one of the Big Apple’s last remaining tortilla factories says it may have to collapse as it has been hit by the pandemic and which he believes is an unsubstantiated lawsuit.

Miguel Carrera and his Mi Barrio Tortilleria in Bushwick were beaten with an unfair wage lawsuit by a former employee in July shortly after reopening after a month-long shutdown at the height of the pandemic. Carrera said the amount claimed by the plaintiff was overwhelming – more than $ 500,000.

“This is crazy,” he said.

Former employee, Miguel Angel Reyes Zaragoza, hired the Michael Faillace law firm to sue the company on charges of improper pay, including overtime.

As reported by The Post, the Faillace firm is targeting delis, restaurants and other small businesses in federal courts with lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. More than 30 such lawsuits have been filed in federal court in Manhattan this year alone.

In one case, a judge found that a delicatessen company lied about his working hours, and in another, an attorney sought sanctions against the Faillace company for “bad faith filing”.

Mi Barrio Tortilleria at 913 Flushing Ave.  in Brooklyn.
Mi Barrio Tortilleria at 913 Flushing Ave. in Brooklyn.
JC Rice for NY Post

Faillace told the Post that sometimes its customers “tell us the wrong things and we just need to be more careful”.

Carrera said he believed workers need protection, but that Faillace should have taken more care in this case. He said his company has never been charged with wage problems and claims that claim was not true.

The company has deep family ties with Carerra. It was the first job his father hired when he came to the United States from Mexico. Eleven years ago, the owner of the tortilla company Carerra, who was 24 at the time, asked if he would be interested in taking over it.

He and his brother Nelson bought the factory, kept all the workers, and expanded to distribute Mexican food and drink. The area used to be called the Tortilla Triangle, but the factory is now one of two in Bushwick and a handful left in town.

Carrera said business had declined about 30 percent because of the pandemic-related restaurant closings and he was trying to hold on. It employs 24 people, from part-time drivers who earn $ 180 a day to others who bring home about $ 700 a week.

Miguel Carrera shows tortilla packs that his shop makes.
Miguel Carrera shows tortilla packs that his shop makes.
JC Rice for NY Post

The lawsuit went to mediation with a proposed settlement of $ 100,000, a sum Carrera cannot afford. The parties will review the situation again this spring.

He said he wished the matter could have been resolved in a conversation with Faillace and his company.

“We’re trying our best to stay afloat while we’re fighting this thing,” he said. “We are currently in a very difficult situation. [They’re] People allegedly pursue that [they’re] out to protect. “

Faillace and another attorney on the case, William Oates, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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