SACRAMENTO (CN) – A former deputy consul for Mexico claims Cesar Chavez’s son recruited her to work in his law office, and that when Fernando Chavez merged his firm with the law firm of the late Johnny Cochran, Chavez fired her for demanding thousands of dollars in back wages.
Adriana Gonzalez Correia says she was working as a deputy consul general in the Sacramento Mexican Consulate in November 2005 “when Fernando Chavez drove from his offices in San Jose, California to solicit Plaintiff, that upon leaving her employment with the Mexican Consulate, she join his law firm to initiate his practice in International Law.”
She says she started working for Chavez in January 2006 and they signed a contract in February. She says she worked for Chavez “as a Foreign Legal Consultant at Defendant’s facility located in Sacramento … from Jan. 26, 2006 to June 26, 2007.”
She claims that “By December 2006, Defendant had paid Plaintiff only two months of wages totaling $10,000. Plaintiff would complain and request her monthly salary but Defendant ignored Plaintiff’s demand for wages.”
She claims Chavez knew of her desperate financial straits, and that “she was not able to provide for the multiple health needs of her disabled child.”
She claims that in March 2007, the Cochran law firm entered merger negotiations with Chavez because the Cochran firm “wanted access to the Hispanic population.”
“Fernando A. Chavez’s law firm was considered given that he is the son of the late union leader Cesar Chavez,” the complaint states. “During these negotiations, Plaintiff was being considered for the position of Consulate Liaison with the prospective merged law offices.
“While all these negotiations were occurring, Plaintiff was not paid, she exhausted her savings, and she started to have concerns about entering into this new position with the new firms. Plaintiff became concerned that she was being used for the benefit of Defendant’s business negotiations and she was never going to be paid her salary.”
She claims that “By the end of May 2007, Defendant Chavez was furious with Plaintiff because she was demanding her back wages and had requested that her monthly salary be paid in a timely fashion.”
Then, she claims, one of Chavez’s associate attorneys told her that Chavez “did not have enough money to pay the whole amount due to her in back wages.”
The complaint continues: “Finally, Defendant gave Plaintiff an ultimatum, she either accepted the new Consulate Liaison position in the new merged law offices of Cochran and Fernando Chavez, waive her back wages, or she would be without a job.”
On June 26, 2007, she says, she sent Chavez a certified letter demanding her back wages and COBRA forms for her health insurance. Shortly afterward, she says, she refused to return to work unless Chavez paid her the back wages.
She claims Chavez owed her $70,000 for her work, and paid her only $21,250.
On July 10, 2007, she says she filed a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. To settle the complaint, Chavez agreed on March 8 this year to pay her $27,443, she says. However, five days later, Chavez allegedly sent her a fax telling her that “due to temporary fiscal constraints Defendant would not be able to pay the full amount due pursuant to the settlement. He threatened to file a 98.2 Notice Of Trial De Novo if Plaintiff did not agree to reschedule the payments due. Plaintiff rejected Defendant’s proposal and insisted he comply with the settlement agreement.” Gonzalez Correia says Chavez did file for a new trial, on March 13, and that since then he has paid her half the amount due.
During the long ordeal, Gonzalez Correia says, she suffered “extreme humiliation, depression, worry, and difficulty sleeping because of her wrongful termination. She has been unable to find comparable employment.”
She demands damages for wrongful firing, nonpayment of wages, breach of contract, conversion, waiting time penalties, and punitive damages.
She is represented in Superior Court by Andrea Rosa of Elk Grove.