Lawsuit Targets Foxtrot, Dom’s For Companies Closing With No Notice To Workers

Lawsuit Targets Foxtrot, Dom’s For Companies Closing With No Notice To Workers

CHICAGO — A class-action lawsuit and a complaint to the city have been filed as the fallout begins over the abrupt closures of all Foxtrot and Dom’s Kitchen & Market stores.

The lawsuit against parent company Outfox Hospitality filed by Jamil Ladell Moore alleges employees were “terminated immediately without any prior notice” Tuesday morning, according to court filings. About 1,000 people could be eligible to take part in the lawsuit, according to the filing.

Moore worked at Foxtrot in Old Town, 1562 N. Wells St., but he was fired in the middle of his shift about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to his lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Outfox had 100 or more employees in Illinois, making it subject to the WARN Act, which legally requires 60-day notice to employees of mass firings. No closure notices for the company appear to have been made on the state’s WARN report.

Whether Outfox falls under the WARN Act remains unclear.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Labor, tasked with investigating and enforcing violations of the WARN Act, said it is “looking into” what happened with Foxtrot and Dom’s. The state established a layoff assistance page with a questionnaire for former Foxtrot employees to complete.

A labor law complaint against Foxtrot has also been filed with the city, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said in a statement.

The business department “does not comment on pending investigations,” the spokesperson said.

Company officials did not immediately return requests for comment.

Syed H. Hussain, an attorney for Moore, said he is looking to help employees get 60 days of backpay and retain unpaid benefits. He hopes others will join the suit.

“Employees woke up yesterday thinking they’ll be going to work and have a stable job without any reason to think otherwise,” Hussain said. “In the middle of their shift, they’re told they’re closing — no notice, nothing to indicate this was coming. Just like that, people were without jobs.”

Customers arriving at Foxtrot and Dom’s locations Tuesday morning were greeted by signs saying the stores had closed permanently. Some workers were seen leaving stores with bags full of goods upon hearing their jobs were gone.

The sudden and unexpected closure of the popular stores left crowds of customers gathered outside in shock. All 33 Foxtrot stores across several U.S. cities and two Dom’s stores closed effective Tuesday, according to a company statement, but it did not give any indication why.

RELATED: Foxtrot, Dom’s Kitchen & Market Closing All Chicago Stores Months After Merger

Foxtrot and Dom’s announced a merger in late November, creating Outfox Hospitality in a bid to contribute to both brands’ growth locally and nationally, company leaders said at the time. The merger came after stock market woes caused Foxtrot to issue layoffs, Crain’s reported.

At the Wicker Park Foxtrot on Tuesday, barista Kayla Pineda said she was totally blindsided by the closure when her manager called her that morning with the news.

“Luckily, I always keep an updated resume. But for other people that are just counting on the job, people who don’t have side hustles or anything like that, this is just their main income,” Pineda said. “It really sucks.”

Jason Bladow, a sushi chef at Dom’s Kitchen & Market in Old Town, has been with the high-end grocery store chain for less than three months.

“After the decision to shut everything down, it felt like my dream had been ripped away from me. Today I feel like I’m in a waking nightmare, but the reality is my dream job is gone and I’m unemployed thanks to white-collar money mismanagement,” Bladow said.

The sushi chef said he heard rumblings of a possible closure late Monday night. People working the nightshift walked out, and Bladow said he received a warning text from a friend working that night.

“I had no idea it would be the entire chain going down,” Bladow said.

A sign posted on a Foxtrot store Tuesday alleged the company had $180 million in debt. Court records do not show any current bankruptcy filings.

Block Club’s Quinn Myers contributed to this report.

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