Chickie’s & Pete’s, widely recognized as the best sports bar in America, has reached a proposed settlement regarding the company’s pay practices for its tipped employees. The restaurants will pay approximately $6.6 million to more than 1,100 employees who worked at 12 different locations throughout the region over the last three years, in accordance with a settlement with the Department of Labor. At the same time, the restaurants reached a $1.68 million settlement with approximately 90 current and former employees who filed federal lawsuits that included many of the same allegations raised in the Department of Labor matter. The settlement is an excellent outcome for Chickie’s & Pete’s employees and for the company, and this recovery represents Pete Ciarrocchi’s good faith efforts to make his workers whole. Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com, was the lead attorney for the waiters, waitresses, and bartenders in the federal lawsuit.
Chickie’s & Pete’s is by no means the first restaurant company to face scrutiny of its tipped employee pay practices. Many restaurant operators across the country have faced similar issues relating to tip pools and tip credits. In fact, hundreds of restaurant operators across the country – ranging from mom-and-pop operations to industry giants like Mario Batali (who in 2012 reached a $5.25 million settlement), Bobby Flay, Outback Steakhouse, and Darden Restaurants (owners of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster) – have been subjected to allegations challenging their compliance with federal and state law rules regarding “tip pools” and “tip credits.”