WaiterPay – New York Labor and Employment Lawyers

Cosimo’s Italian Restaurant Sued For Overtime Violations

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Restaurant workers are suing Cosimo’s Italian Restaurant in Westfield, New Jersey for unpaid overtime wages in New Jersey federal court. Cooks, dishwashers, food preparation workers, and other back of house workers  claim Cosimo’s illegally profited at the expense of their employees.  Workers claim Cosimo’s was underpaying them “hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages” throughout the course of their employment. The kitchen workers claimed employees all worked at least approximately 57 to 60 hours per week and often worked long shifts totaling approximately 10 to 12 hours a day.

Cosimo’s paid back of house workers a set salary regardless of the number of hours that they actually worked, and therefore did not pay overtime. Further, it’s claimed that while Cosimo’s knew the failure to pay overtime wages to its workers at time-and-a-half their regular hourly rate would result in financial harm, they intentionally falsified time and pay records in order to evade the law. Attorneys for the former employees have asked that the District of New Jersey Court allow them to notify other former workers about joining the suit.

Texas Roadhouse to Pay $1.4M to Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit

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A Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Columbus, Ohio will pay $1.4 million to settle a class sexual harassment suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC had charged the restaurant with victimizing a group of female employees as young as 17 years old by subjecting them to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, the manager of the restaurant in the Reynoldsburg section of Columbus, Eric Price, harassed women and teen girls working in server, hostess and other front-of-the-house positions. In the suit, EEOC identified 12 victims of his abuse who suffered unwelcome touching, humiliating remarks about their and other females’ bodies and sexuality, and pressure for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits or as a condition of avoiding adverse employment action. EEOC charged that the harassment began in 2007, continued for over three and a half years until the manager was fired in May 2011, and was coupled with retaliation against employees who opposed the abuse.

Although the companies’ owners and individuals with high-level authority received multiple complaints about the manager’s abusive conduct throughout his employment, they failed to take prompt, effective action to put a stop to the abuse, EEOC said. Price was not fired until May 2011, when he was seen on a surveillance video touching a 17-year-old female employee in his office at the restaurant during work hours, the agency charged.

Harassment and discrimination based on sex violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also forbids employers from firing or otherwise retaliating against an employee because she complained about discriminatory conduct. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. East Columbus Host, LLC d/b/a Texas Roadhouse and Ultra Steak, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-1696) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On Sept. 2, U.S. District Court Judge James L. Graham issued an order denying East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak’s motion for summary judgment on EEOC’s sexual harassment claims. He found that EEOC had presented sufficient evidence to overcome the motion. In rejecting the employers’ argument that they had established an affirmative defense because some of Price’s victims allegedly delayed or failed to complain, Judge Graham held that questions remained regarding the companies’ efforts to stop any sexually harassing behavior.

Referring to evidence that previous complaints had been made against the restaurant manager, the court noted that EEOC had described a pattern of complaints, including evidence that “less than a month into his tenure, Price made sexual remarks to … [a] high school-aged hostess … [who] did complain, and the only response she got was not from the corporate office, but from the very person she feared: Eric Price,” who told her “not to get other people involved if she had a problem.” A jury, Judge Graham held, “could see this as the first failure in a long line of tepid responses in the face of near-constant complaints, bookended by sexual harassment of teenage girls.” The court also rejected the defendants’ argument that EEOC had failed to conciliate its claims against them as required by Title VII.

In addition to the $1.4 million in monetary relief to the victims, the five-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires the companies to offer reinstatement to injured women identified by EEOC in agreed locations and positions. The decree prohibits the companies from rehiring the offending manager.

The decree further requires East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak to put in place an electronic recordkeeping system to track all gender discrimination and retaliation complaints of any kind and includes mandatory reporting of any allegedly discriminatory or retaliatory adverse employment action, such as failure to hire or promote.

Further, the companies must provide training to all employees on discrimination and retaliation. Supervisory, management, and human resources personnel are to be trained on their duty to monitor the work environment; how to receive and investigate complaints of harassment or discrimination; and how to respond to complaints effectively with corrective action. East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak also are required to report to EEOC on how they handle any internal complaints of gender discrimination or retaliation, and they must post a notice about the settlement at all restaurants covered by the decree.

EEOC recently updated its [email protected] website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.

Wage Theft Case Filed By Delivery Workers Against Just Salad

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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.

 

 

 

 

Groupon agrees to $2.5M Settlement for Unpaid Overtime to Sales Representatives

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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.

NYC Restaurant to Pay $1.2 Million Settlement For Unpaid Overtime

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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.

 

 

Former employees of Wahlburgers in Brooklyn claim they were denied wages, file lawsuit

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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.

Former Servers Sue Saks Fifth Avenue Restaurants For Sex and Age Discrimination

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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.

Famous Oklahoma Restaurant Pay Workers $52,000 for FLSA Violations

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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.”

 

 

Anthony Bourdain Restaurant Ordered to Pay Servers For Wage Theft Violations

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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”.

Westchester County Dunkin’ Donuts Settles Sex Harassment Lawsuit for $150,000

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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.

 

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