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Darden Restaurants Sued in Alleged Unpaid Minimum Wage and Overtime Action

Employers that refuse to pay their employees the proper rates for all time worked could find themselves facing a lawsuit. They can either try to settle the lawsuit outside of court, or risk having to pay the employees an amount determined by a jury. If they decide to take their chances with the jury, employers might also have to pay federal fines to the government as punishment for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The FLSA sets a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. All employees working within the United States must be paid no less than $7.25 per hour, except for tipped employees. Under the FLSA, tipped employees can be paid the lower minimum wage of $2.13 per hour, but only if these wages, combined with the tips they make, add up to at least $7.25 per hour.

The problem tipped employees face is that they are often required to do “side work”, or work for which they do not receive tips. This includes cleaning bathrooms, stocking supplies, and performing opening and closing tasks before customers arrive and after they leave. Because these employees are not receiving tips for this work, but are still being paid the lower minimum wage, the FLSA mandates that tipped employees are not to spend more than 20% of their time performing side work.

According to a recent wage and hour lawsuit, Darden Restaurants allegedly made its servers come in to perform opening tasks before even clocking in for work. This means the employees were allegedly not paid any wages for the work they did to get the restaurants opened up and running. If the plaintiffs can show they worked a full eight hours a day or forty hours a week in addition to the unpaid side work they performed, they could also be eligible to collect unpaid wages at the premium overtime rate of one and one-half times their normal hourly wages.

Darden Restaurants is a chain that owns a number of well-known restaurants, including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and The Capital Grille, among others. The lawsuit was filed by two employees of Darden Restaurants who are alleging that their being forced to perform work without pay was not an isolated incident. This implies they may be trying to get a class of other similarly situated employees together to make their case a class action lawsuit.

If the plaintiffs ultimately pursue a class and are successful in petitioning the court to certify a class of plaintiffs, the wage and hour lawsuit could get much more expensive for Darden Restaurants. Class actions are an incredibly useful tool for plaintiffs because they provide them with sufficient cost advantages against defendants that are also large corporations, such as Darden Restaurants.

Darden can afford to hire a team of practiced lawyers to defend their case, while the average hourly employee can’t afford the same number of lawyers, if they can afford one at all. By pooling their claims together, a class of employees can get the representation they need, while simultaneously saving the courts from the extra work of having to try the same case multiple times. Darden denies all of the claims.

The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Bollingbrook and Jolet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Waukegan and Northbrook overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.