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HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet Settle California Wage and Hour Class Action for $2 Million

Employers are expected to cover all business expenses. In the event a worker has to pay for something, federal labor law requires the employer to reimburse the worker in a timely manner.

The same goes for the costs of vehicle maintenance when deliveries have to be made. Workers can use their own vehicles to make deliveries for their employers, but the employer is then required to reimburse the worker for the costs of gas used to make the delivery and part of the worker’s maintenance costs.

According to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against Ovation Brands Inc., the company’s restaurants have allegedly forced employees to use their own vehicles to make deliveries without reimbursing them.

The wage and hour lawsuit was filed against HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet, both of which are owned by Ovation Brands.

In addition to making employees use their own vehicles for deliveries without reimbursement, the class action lawsuit also alleges the restaurants failed to provide employees with meal and rest breaks throughout the day. The lawsuit further alleges the restaurants failed to provide employees with their full wages once they left the company.

The wage and hour lawsuit includes about 11,000 current and former employees who worked for one or both of the restaurants in California between July 19, 2012 and March 10, 2015. Because the class members were all working in California, they are subject to California labor law, which has more provisions to protect employees than federal law.

Under California labor law, employers are required to provide all hourly, nonexempt workers with regular breaks throughout the day. For every four hours they work, an employee is entitled to one paid, uninterrupted rest break lasting at least ten minutes. For every five hours of work, the employee is entitled to an unpaid, uninterrupted meal break lasting at least half an hour. For every day one of these breaks is not taken, the employee is entitled to one hour’s worth of pay, in addition to all wages, tips, and bonuses earned that day.

California labor law also requires employers to pay workers all wages owed within 72 hours of the employee’s termination of employment. If the employee provides more than 72 hours notice of termination, then all wages are due upon termination. According to the recent wage and hour class action lawsuit, the restaurants allegedly failed to pay all wages to terminated employees within the legally required time frame.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also requires employers to provide all their workers with accurate, itemized wage statements each time the employee is paid. This means the wage statements need to include the employee’s hourly wage, the pay period, how many hours the employee worked in that pay period, and the amount and reason for all deductions (taxes, health insurance, etc.). The recent class action lawsuit alleges employees of HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet were not provided with accurate wage statements along with their paychecks.

Rather than arguing the matter in court, both sides have agreed to settle the dispute for $2 million, about a quarter of which will go to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs.

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, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, 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 Orland Park and Evergreen Park. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Maywood and Berwyn 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.