San Antonio favorite Delia’s Tamales faces fraud, age discrimination suit

Delia’s issued a general denial to the plaintiffs’ claims, which also include allegations the company threatened to call immigration authorities on workers who complained.

Delia’s operates seven locations in Sn Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. - Facebook / Delia's
Facebook / Delia's
Delia’s operates seven locations in Sn Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include an emailed statement from an attorney for Delia's Tamales.

Delia's Tamales, a South Texas food institution with a popular West San Antonio location, has been sued by 25 former employees, who allege the company committed fraud and age discrimination.

In a lawsuit originally filed Aug. 31 in Hidalgo County District Court, the plaintiffs argue the McAllen-based company cooked up a scheme to help employees acquire bogus Social Security numbers so they could work there. Delia’s officials withheld federal Social Security taxes from the staffers' paychecks but kept the deductions for the business' coffers, the complaint states.

“Social security would send the monies back to [the] defendant, because the social security cards [Delia’s] helped get the plaintiffs were fake,” the lawsuit maintains. The plaintiffs also said the business terminated employees as they neared retirement because “it didn’t want any issues” to arise from the allegedly falsified documents.

In a statement, emailed to the Current, an attorney for Delia's Tamales dismissed the suit's claims as "provably false" but declined to delve deeper into the allegations. 

“Delia’s Tamales was founded nearly 30 years ago through hard work and high quality, and we value our people and our community,” Houston-based attorney Laura Alaniz said in the statement. “We look forward to defending our good reputation in court."

The suit was first reported on locally by the Express-News.

The plaintiffs, who worked for Delia’s from November 2000 through May of this year, seek the reimbursement of their Social Security and interest, according to the legal filing.

The plaintiffs all live in Hidalgo County, were the suit was originally filed, according to the petition. However, Delia’s earlier this month had the suit moved to federal court in McAllen, documents show.

In its court response, Delia’s said the plaintiffs should “take nothing” from their lawsuit. The company wants the court to award it attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses.

Delia’s opened a San Antonio location to much fanfare in 2020. The Alamo City store, at 13527 Hausman Pass, is the chain's seventh location. The others are all in the Rio Grande Valley.

Delia’s is the latest high-profile hospitality business to face allegations over how it handles employee compensation. Last month, federal authorities sued San Antonio pizza spot Barbaro in federal court, claiming it violated labor and tipshare laws. Restaurateur Chad Carey, who operates Barbaro and other local businesses, denied the allegations and said he's looking forward to a quick resolution.

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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