Delivery persons at Just Salad restaurants in New York were cheated out of their wages and overtime, according to a lawsuit filed in New York federal court. Just Salad allegedly failed to pay its employees the minimum wage and forced them to pay money out of their own pockets for the costs of delivery bikes. The Complaint claims Just Salad also forced its employees to sacrifice their own money in order to make up for the tip shortfalls of other workers, along with the laundry maintenance costs of their uniforms.
The former deliverymen claim Just Salad purposefully failed to keep accurate time records for its employees in order to mitigate their liability for the failure to pay the proper minimum and overtime wages. Further, they say Just Salad made them complete side work such as cleaning the bathroom and floor, fixing the cooler and fixing the staff room without paying them for all hours worked. The Complaint also claims that Just Salad required delivery persons to frequently bring boxes of vegetables, cheese and meat from one store to another, and then refused to pay them back for the taxi cab costs of such trips.
A federal judge approved a proposed class action settlement for $2.5 million between Groupon and over 2,024 sales representatives for wage theft and unpaid overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Employees worked an average of 2.18 hours of overtime per week, which amounts to an average of $778 for each class member. The Complaint alleges that Groupon failed to pay non-exempt inside sales representatives their due overtime wages. Groupon contended that the employees fell into an overtime exemption and were not entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 each week.
The Complaint also claims that Groupon employed more than one hundred sales representatives after August 23, 2011. Sales reps at Groupon were responsible for “cold calling” businesses within a geographic market and selling those merchants on the benefits of offering discounted coupons on Groupon’s website, as well as “securing commitments from those merchants to run discounted coupons on Groupon’s website.”
The employees claim that Groupon failed to include earned commissions in their regular rates of pay for purposes of computing earned overtime wages from April 1, 2011 to August 22, 2011. Employees also claim that since August 23, 2011, Groupon has not paid sales representatives any overtime wages when they worked in excess of 40 hours in individual work weeks. Further, the Complaint states that “[i]n August 2011, Groupon directed sales reps to stop recording their hours worked in Groupon’s time keeping system.”
A hearing is set for November 10, 2016, where Judge Edmond E. Chang of the U.S. District Court for the Norther, District of Illinois will hear arguments for and against final approval. Employees eligible to join the lawsuit are currently being notified about the proposed settlement.
Serafina Management Group Ltd., a chain operating about a dozen Italian Restaurants in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia has agreed to pay $1,270,000 to current and former employees for unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Serafina allegedly failed to pay their employees the minimum wage, engaged in unlawful tip-pooling practices by keeping 3% of tips customers had put on charge and credit cards and requiring employees to make up customers’ tip shortfalls and walkouts.
The New York City area entities covered under the settlement include Sofia Fabulous Pizza Corp., Sofia 61st Street Corp., Sofia 58th St. Corp., Serafina 77 West, LLC, Serafina Broadway, LTD., and Serafina Meatpacking LLC for actions from July 9, 2008 through February 24, 2016.
The proposed class encompasses servers, baristas, bartenders, bussers and other workers at one of the six New York City Serafina locations who were paid at the tip-credit rate. Four individual named plaintiffs each agreed to individual settlements with Serafina for amounts ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 each. The nearly $1.3 million settlement will be distributed amongst the 1,031 Class Members on the final class list.
New York Daily News has reported that Wahlburgers, subject of the popular A&E reality show by the same name, is being sued by former employees for unpaid overtime and tip violations. The attorneys for the former restaurant workers in the case is Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com and Mitchell Schley.
Five former servers at the restaurants in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York City are suing the store’s food services provider for gender and age discrimination-based termination. Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause to believe that plaintiffs were unfairly terminated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) based on their sex and age.
Fifth Dining, LLC took over food and beverage operations at Saks in October 2012. According to the lawsuit, they terminated twenty employees within the first year they ran the food services at Saks, and terminated another twenty workers soon thereafter. The lawsuit alleges that a disproportionate number of the employees fired were competent, long-service females over the age of 40 and they were all replaced with young, attractive men. New management, the complaint contends, was looking for a “new, younger face” for the Saks restaurants and the current servers were “not attractive enough” and were getting “too old.”
The workers are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and liquidated damages pursuant to Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, New York State Law, and New York City Law.
A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found that Junior’s Supper Club, an Oklahoma City fine dining institution open since 1973, violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The Department of Labor (DOL) investigation revealed that Junior’s failed to combine hours worked by employees who performed more than one job duty at the restaurant (i.e., server and busser) during a workweek. As a result, the restaurant failed to recognize when these employees worked more than 40 hours in a week and did not pay them overtime as required by the FLSA. The DOL investigation also found that Junior’s illegally deducted time from worker’s pay when no work was available (i.e., no customers in restaurant), although employees were ready to serve. This resulted in minimum wage and overtime violations for the unpaid time. In addition, the DOL investigation disclosed that Junior’s did not keep accurate records of the total number of hours employees worked in a week, a recordkeeping violation under the FLSA.
In settlement of the wage theft claims, Junior’s paid a total of $52,487 to nine workers and agreed to keep accurate records and comply with all provisions of the FLSA in the future.
“Restaurant workers are among the most vulnerable workers we see in Oklahoma,” said a DOL representative. “If an employer requires workers to be ready to serve customers whenever they walk in, the employer must pay workers for the times when there may be no customers in the facility. These workers depend on every penny they rightfully earn; cheating them out of overtime has a tremendous impact on them and their families. The resolution of this case signals the division’s commitment to protecting restaurant workers, and leveling the playing field for employers who pay their workers legally.”
Les Halles, the French Bistro which was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential, has been ordered by a Manhattan Federal Court to pay their waitstaff for wage theft violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. The Court issued a default judgment for the waitstaff’s minimum wage and tip misappropriation claims. According to the Order, the former waitstaff at Les Halles will also be awarded damages for misappropriation of tips.
Les Halles closed it Park Avenue South doors in March after being open for nearly 25 years. The restaurant, owned by Philipe Lajaunie, had been in eviction proceedings with the building’s landlord since December 2015. According to the Order, the Court decided that in light of Les Halles’ deteriorating financial condition it did not want to run the risk that the former waitstaff would be left with a “toothless future judgement”.
A Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee in Westchester County, NY will pay $150,000 to former workers to settle a sex harassment lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Hillcrest Marshall, a franchise which owns multiple Dunkin’ Donuts locations. The lawsuit claimed that the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee violated federal law by subjecting female employees, some of whom were in their teens at the time, to sexual harassment by a store manager at one of its stores. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, among other things, the store manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker who was 20 years old at the time, and pressured her to have sex. After she rejected him, the manager regularly hit, cursed and yelled at her. When she contacted the police, she was terminated in retaliation for resisting his advances.
Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Hillcrest Marshall ceased to employ the manager and agreed not to rehire him. In addition to payment of $150,000 to the harassment victims, Hillcrest Marshall will train the managers at all of their stores of their obligations under the law; institute strong anti-discrimination and complaint policies for all of its employees; and designate a senior manager to receive all complaints of discrimination and harassment.
The Department of Labor announced it signed a cooperative agreement with Subway, the world’s largest franchisor. The agreement boosts Subway’s compliance with labor laws, helping ensure that workers get paid the wages they are legally entitled.
The agreement with Subway breaks new ground in how the Department of Labor can work with the regulated community — not only with employers, but with franchisors, suppliers, retailers and others — to channel their influence to ensure that all employers along a supply chain or otherwise linked in commerce play by the rules. The agreement builds upon the Wage and Hour division’s ongoing work to provide technical assistance and training to Subway’s franchisees. It also provides an avenue for information-sharing where the Department of Labor will provide data about concluded investigations with Subway, and shares Subway’s data with the Department of Labor, generating creative problem solving and sparking new ideas to promote compliance.
When necessary, the franchisor will remind franchisees of the Wage and Hour Division’s authority to investigate their establishments and to examine records. The agreement also specifies that Subway may exercise its business judgment in dealing with a franchisee’s status within the brand, based upon any history of Fair Labor Standards Act violations. The agreement provides a model for exacting compliance, at scale, in an industry that has experienced problems.
The Department of Labor calls its collaboration with Subway a recipe for success, demonstrating how government and industry can work together to protect vulnerable workers and ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
The Seventh Circuit addressed tip credit and 80/20 issues in a decision involving pay practices at Original Pancake House restaurants in Chicago.
On the 80/20 issue, the Court found that although some waiters and waitresses tasks may be performed by untipped staff at other restaurants, it does not make them unrelated to their server duties. The Court noted that “the possibility that a few minutes a day were devoted to keeping the restaurant tidy does not require the restaurants to pay the normal minimum wage rather than the tip credit rate for those minutes.”
On the tip credit issue, the Court analyzed the requirements of §203(m) and explained “workers are entitled to knowledge about the tip credit program but not to a comprehensive explanation.” The Seventh Circuit’s take on the requirements for notification of the tip credit was threefold: “Three things are apt to matter most to employees at establishments such as these defendants: (a) in anticipation of tips the employer will pay less than the minimum wage; (b) how much the cash wage will fall short of the current minimum wage; and (c) if tips plus the cash wage do not at least match the current minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. We think that person told these things has been adequately “informed” for the purpose of the statute, during the time before the Department of Labor elaborated by regulation.”