Olive Garden, Red Lobster Employees File Lawsuit for Unpaid Wages
A lawsuit was filed on Thursday in federal court claiming that wait staff employees from Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and other restaurant chains across the country associated with Darden Restaurants were underpaid.
Lead attorney David Lichter says the lawsuit represents Darden employees from August 2009 to present, and they are going after what could possibly turn into tens of millions of dollars in compensation and legal fees.
“Darden has a companywide pattern and practice of paying its employees below minimum wage and less than what the law requires,” Lichter said. “We’re seeking not only to correct the wrongs that have occurred at Darden, but hopefully this will stimulate change across the country.”
However, Darden company spokesperson Rich Jeffers says the accusations in the lawsuit are not true and that each of their brands complies with all federal and state labor laws.
According to the company’s website, Darden owns more than 2,000 restaurants and employs about 180,000 people in North America.
Last year, Darden was forced to pay a combined total of nearly $51,000 in back pay and civil penalties for violating labor codes in regards to 109 existing and previous employees of a Red Lobster in Lubbock, Texas, according to the Labor Department.
Several lawsuits making the same types of claims against Darden are currently going on now in Illinois and New York, but the Florida case is the first to represent a blanket of employees from Darden’s four major restaurant brands.
The lawsuit filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act claims that servers were not allowed to clock in until customers showed up, some were made to continue working off the clock, and employees were not paid time and a half for working beyond 40 hours per week.
Attorney David Lichter says, he expects thousands of Darden employees to be affected by this lawsuit.