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Former Bow Truss Coffee Workers Sue Company For Wage Theft

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than a dozen former employees of the Bow Truss Coffee Roasters chain have sued the company's founder, accusing him of failing to pay them after their paychecks repeatedly bounced.

Trumaine Hardy said he worked for Bow Truss for more than a year-and-a-half, and estimated he lost "at least $500 just in bank fees from bounced paychecks."

The wage theft lawsuit filed Monday against Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros seeks more than $50,000 in damages for the employees. Their attorney, Scott Kane, said he doesn't know yet how much money the employees might be owed.

"Our law firm did serve Bow Truss with a records request earlier today, and we are excited to see what turns up throughout this civil discovery process. At present, we actually don't even know how deep this rabbit hole goes," he said.

Only two of the 11 Bow Truss Coffee Roaster shops remain open in Chicago. The rest closed down last month, after most workers walked off the job in protest over bounced paychecks and other alleged irregularities.

"What happened to me was a series of most of my paychecks that bounced," said former Bow Truss employee Ben Creech.

Creech said he's not sure how much money he might be owed.

"They told me it was always a mistake. They told me that it was just a little mishap, but it was, in fact, something that had been going on long before I arrived and continued long after I left," he said. "This was especially difficult when I got sick over the summer. I got strep throat, and so I didn't have any money in my bank account. I wasn't able to pay the co-pay to get medicine."

A few politicians, such as Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) have thrown their support behind the former Bow Truss employees

"Companies like Bow Truss, pay your workers. Don't steal the wages," Waguespack said Monday outside the closed Bow Truss coffee shop in the 400 block of North Wells Street.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said the city and state both should "put some teeth in their regulatory agencies to make sure this doesn't happen anywhere, anytime."

"Bow Truss is stealing from its employees. It's not fair, it's not right and it's illegal," he said.

Bow Truss Coffee owner Phil Tadros said in an email that he has paid all his workers. He said it's a shame his four-year-old company is going through this during "explosive growth and vulnerability"

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