Tea chain Boba Guys has permanently closed its original San Francisco store months after employees accused management of recording illegal audio.
Amidst the controversy, co-founders Andrew Chau and Bin Chen temporarily closed the location on 19th and Valencia in October.
The allegations began weeks after the tea chain fired ex-employee Madeline Urso for sexual harassment based on an inappropriate comment “documented in video” about Chau. Urso had recently expressed frustrations to the store’s management regarding their decision to cut down shift hours, leading to allegations of illegal union busting.
As a two-party consent state, California requires that all parties involved give their consent before a private conversation can be recorded. However, the Boba Guys employee handbook does not mention audio surveillance, and Urso states that the company never informed employees that audio recordings could occur.
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Urso’s termination led to outrage, with many alleging that her termination was retaliation for talks of unionization. Workers posted signs around the original store in Mission that read, “upper management retaliates against boba employees” and “union busters,” SF Gate reported.
In light of these recent events, Chau and Chen confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle the official closure of their San Francisco Mission District store, opened in summer 2013, alongside their store in Newport Beach. Although the duo did not provide a reason for the closure, they have provided employee transfers to other Boba Guys stores.
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