A lawsuit filed on April 17, 2014 alleges that Carlson Restaurants, Inc., Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Inc., and TGI Friday’s Inc. (collectively, “TGI Friday’s”) failed to pay its tipped hourly food service workers the proper minimum wage, overtime pay, spread-of-hours pay, and misappropriated tips. This lawsuit was filed as a class action against TGI Friday’s locations nationwide. Thus, any current or former server, busser, runner, bartender, barback, host, or any other tipped food service worker who has worked for TGI Friday’s within the past six year might be affected.
The servers, bussers, runners, bartenders, barbacks, hosts, and other tipped food service workers (“Tipped Employees”) allege that TGI Friday’s failed to satisfy the strict requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) that would allow them to pay a reduced minimum wage rate to a tipped employee. In that regard, TGI Friday’s had a policy and practice that required Tipped Employees to spend over two hours and/or in excess of 20% of their work shift performing non-tip producing “side work.” Side work included, but was not limited to, general cleaning of the restaurant, preparing food in bulk for customers, cutting produce, refilling condiments, and stocking and replenishing the bar and service areas. Therefore, TGI Friday’s should have paid the Tipped Employees the full minimum wage rate (currently $8.00 in NY), rather than the reduced tipped minimum wage rate (currently $5.00 in NY). Tipped Employees also allege that TGI Friday’s required them to perform “off-the-clock” work which they were never compensated. “Off-the-clock” work consisted of requiring them to arrive at the restaurant one hour before customer service to perform side work, requiring them to punch in after they got their first table, and punch out before they performed closing side work. As a result of these practices, Tipped Employees were not compensated for all the hours they worked and when they worked over forty hours per workweek, they were not paid overtime pay. Tipped Employees consistently worked in excess of ten hours per day without ever being compensated on additional hour of the full minimum wage. Furthermore, TGI Friday’s required tips to be distributed to employees who are not entitled to tips under the FLSA and/or NYLL such as, silverware rollers and expeditors. Additionally, Tipped Employees were given only one uniform, which TGI Friday’s failed to launder or pay Tipped Employees the statutory uniform allowance. Finally, TGI Friday’s made unlawful deductions from Tipped Employees’ wages, such as for customer walkouts. This lawsuit seeks to recover the difference between the reduced tipped minimum wage and the full minimum wage, premium overtime pay for hours worked in excess of forty per workweek, spread-of-hours pay, the amount of tips that were distributed to the employees who are not entitled to tips, uniform maintenance reimbursements, and unlawful deductions made from their pay.
Anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry in either the “front-of-the-house” (i.e., server, busser, bartender, etc) or the “back-of-the-house” (i.e., dishwasher, food prep, line cook, etc) position within the past six years may have a wage claim. Please contact the employment lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, (212) 300-0375, to schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss your rights under the FLSA and NYLL.
Current and former TGI Friday’s tipped employees, who have questions about the lawsuit, should contact Fitapelli & Schaffer, (212) 300-0375, or you can visit www.tgifridayslawsuit.com. You can also view the complaint here.