Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Darden Lawsuit - Servers give this a look

Well, not just servers, but especially servers.  Normally I'd consider ambulance chasers to be poor form, but I'd love to see Darden kicked squarely in the balls (repeatedly) on this one.  Keep in mind that Darden cannot punish you for joining the lawsuit.  The lawsuit that would be incurred from that action is something they won't play with.

This lawsuit includes Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse & more.

Have you been the victim of unfair labor practices while working for a Darden Restaurant?

Consider joining the class action lawsuit. 

Know Your Rights, You Have Options.

Many of the almost 168,000 restaurant workers at The Darden Restaurant Group, the world’s largest restaurant group, earn wages below the minimum wage — with tipped minimum wages as low at $2.13 an hour and non-tipped wages as low as $7.25 an hour. In addition, many workers are not compensated for time that they work off-the-clock or are not paid appropriate overtime wages. This lawsuit provides Darden’s current and former servers the opportunity to join together and seek back wages owed to them for the time spent doing general maintenance or preparatory duties that they performed for less than minimum wage. Learn More>

From the FAQ:

1. What is this lawsuit about?
This case is about whether Darden failed to pay tipped employees such as servers the wages that they were entitled to under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiffs allege that they were required by Darden to work off the clock, both before and after their assigned shifts. Plaintiffs also claim that Darden directed them and other servers to perform work that would not generate tips such as general maintenance and preparatory duties without paying proper wages for such work, and that Darden failed to pay appropriate overtime wages.

2. Who can be a part of this case?
People who were and/or are employed at the following Darden restaurants nationwide as a tipped employee (such as a server) at any time from August 2009 to the present: The Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, and the Capital Grille.  Even if you no longer work for Darden, you may still participate if you worked at one or more of these restaurants after August 2009.

3. Why should I participate in this lawsuit?
You may be owed back pay. Our lawsuit claims that Darden required tipped employees, such as servers, to do general maintenance and/or preparatory type work for which those employees did not earn tips and were not paid minimum wage.  The goal of this lawsuit is to require Darden to pay its employees for all of the work they performed. You do not have to participate in this lawsuit.  However, if you decide not to become a part of the case,  you will not be able to share in any recovery that may be awarded.

4.  Will it Cost me Anything to Participate in this Case?
No. There is no cost to you to be included in this lawsuit.

5. How do I  join in this  lawsuit?
All current or former servers at an Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, or Capital Grille restaurant employed at any time from August 2009 to the present can participate in this case. To participate in this case, we ask that you complete an information form.  At some time later in the case, the Court may require Darden to send out notices to other potential class members.

6. If I join in this action, what will happen?
At this time, it is impossible to precisely predict the final result of the lawsuit.  However, if you decide to participate in this case and are part of the eligible group of employees , then you will receive a portion of any money judgment entered by the Court following a trial or following any settlement approved by the Court prior to trial, and you will be bound by the final judgment or settlement. By participating in this case, you designate the named Plaintiffs as your representatives and to make decisions on your behalf concerning the case and the method and manner of conducting the case (there may be additional named Plaintiffs as the case proceeds).  These decisions and agreements made and entered into will be binding on you if you participate in this case.  Additionally, it is a violation of federal law for Darden to terminate your employment or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against you for taking part in this case or otherwise exercising your rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you believe that Darden has retaliated against you in any way regarding this lawsuit, then you should contact Plaintiffs’ counsel immediately.

7. What if I do nothing?
You may file your own individual lawsuit subject to any defenses and applicable statute of limitations.  If you do not join our lawsuit, you will not be entitled to share in any amounts that the class may receive as part of this case.

8. What might I receive?
Participants may receive money for unpaid wages or overtime, additional amounts of liquidated damages, and interest on their unpaid wages.

9. What is a collective action or class action lawsuit?
In a collective action or class action, “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of others who have similar claims.  All of the people who have similar claims are the  “Class” or are called “Class Members”.  The Class Representatives and all the Class Members who decide to participate in the lawsuit are called Plaintiffs. Darden is the Defendant. The purpose of the class action lawsuit is to resolve the claims for all of the Class Members.

10.  Who are the Class Representatives?
The current class representatives, Amanda Mathis and James Hamilton, are former servers at Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden restaurants.

11.  How long will the lawsuit last?
That depends on many factors. Collective Action cases can take several years to be completely resolved. We will move the case forward as quickly as possible.

12. What if Darden fires or demotes me if I join in the lawsuit?
It violates Federal law for Darden to retaliate against you for joining this  lawsuit. If you think Darden has retaliated against you for participating in  this  lawsuit,  please get in touch with Plaintiffs’ counsel.

13. Will Darden Find Out That I have Contacted You?
Your contacts with us are protected by the Attorney-Client Privilege and we will not voluntarily disclose them to Darden or its lawyers. Your responses on our Contact Form are secured and encrypted,  just like a bank or credit card purchase online.  If you become a Class Representative, your name will be disclosed to Darden’s attorneys.  If you are a potential witness with important information for the lawsuit, and you agree to testify, we may disclose your name to Darden after getting your permission. Under no circumstances should Darden or its attorneys talk to you directly about your claims in this lawsuit.  If they try to do so, please contact one of the law firms involved in this case.

14. Who are the lawyers representing the Class Members?
Several law firms are working together on this case. Click here for information and background of the lawyers and law firms involved in this lawsuit.

15. What if I have more questions?
Please contact Plaintiffs’ counsel and click here for their contact information.


Anonymous said...

Knew that was gonna happen awhile managers and up have completely lost sight of operations....corporate has no idea what goes on at the operational level. Their demands on management are out of control....while they sit in their multi-million dollar building with personal trainers provided to them at the on campus gym....nurse on hand with a lovely office to take care of their medical needs....which is a free service for the Corp guys....don't even get me started on the 5 star cafeteria they have....which is not Darden food.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how to calculate all the side work that goes on the whole time you are working like lifting/carrying large ice buckets that for some of us are 3/4 of our body weight..racking up glasses lifting them-putting them in racks- these racks of glasses are a 1/ '3 of many women's body weight, remember many women don't weigh more than 100-120 lbs....including after shift side sweeping the bar area which may be 6oo-800 square ft with a child size plastic broom about 3ft long- stooping the entire time-I mean the "chores" are all the time not just after closing or at shift change.

Anonymous said...

From what I have read on other similar suits opening, running, and closing are all calculated. An example= clock in@11am and do 30 min opening then spend 10-15 min per hour worked do running work like filling ice wells and stocking as needed, then 30 min on closing- punching out at 3. Side work time = 2 hrs of total work time on a 4 hr shift far exceeding the 20% of time allocated by the DOL. so I am pretty sure they are f@cked. And good-they deserve it for taking advantage of people. The law wasn't put in place to create slave labor!

SkippyMom said...

What's sad is so many people don't realize that servers do a shitload of work that doesn't garner tips [as said prepatory and maintenance] when they work - at that is at all restaurants not just Darden.

I was surprised, tho', that Red Lobster was having servers NOT clock in or CLOCK out early but still be required to work to get these tasks done. I know the job market is tight and a job is valuable, but I would literally say "Eff you" before anyone make me clock out and still work. I am clocked out I am out the door.

If they win this lawsuit and I truly hope they do - this is going to mean a major change [and headache] for every restaurant that pays servers wages below minimum in America. And that will, in turn, show up on the menu as higher prices.

Good luck and prayers to you and your comrades that you do see something from this suit. And I hope they tack punitive damages on as well.

Lobster Boy said...

I'm hoping heads roll at corporate for this. Like another CEO on the way out when Darden gets kicked in the balls when they lose the suit.

And I'm not talking just a sacrificial can someone to save face. I'm hoping the share holders hold their feet to the fire and force the board to take steps to redirect this company away from the trash heap they so diligently seem intent on heading for. I used to love Darden/Red Lobster, but it went to hell quite a long time ago, and I won't shed a tear if/when the shit hits the fan.

For the right price I'm available for many upper level corporate management positions. I think I'd be pretty good at being "the man".


Lobster Boy

steve_in_pa said...

First, let me state, that the opinions stated here are not those of Darden Restaurants, or any of their wholly-owned entities, and are solely my own. And no, I am not a manager of a Darden-owned restaurant.

As I read the labor poster posted in the break room, I couldn't find reference to the 20% number that is continually mentioned here. What I do know, is before 11AM, deemed to be non-service hours, servers are paid minimum wage (currently $7.25/hr) for set-up and other duties. Other than that, all that is required by law is that a business (ours) may pay less than minimum for tipped employees and claim a tip credit for the difference. This applies only to those who work more than 15 hours per month. Here in PA, that's a $2.83/hr salary, and results in a tip credit of $4.42/hr. (rates in your state may vary). This is based over a weekly period, not any individual day or hour. Salary + Tip Credit must be a rate that will equal $7.25 per hour over the course of a normal Monday-Sunday 7-day workweek. And everyone that was hired after about 1995 or so was presented with a list of position-specific duties for the server position before they started, whether it was during the interview process or new-hire orientation. Check those new hire manuals. It probably goes without saying that all servers 'net' at least that tip credit rate on an weekly basis, even after Mandatory Tip Share. So that argument is probably not going to go too far. As for the 'work done off the clock', that one is probably the real meat of this lawsuit. I have indeed heard and seen people being told not to clock in until they need to ring in their first table. Once again, it's just store-level management trying to save a few precious manhours to avoid the weekly director phone call. It's not a Darden-written policy, of course. What's going to come of this, unfortunately, is that Corporate Darden and Store-Level Darden are going to be determined to have different levels of culpability. Upper management will claim that policies were in place, and store-level management will individually be held accountable and liable. After all, you can't expect Corporate to be aware of what 4-6 managers do in each of their 2000 or so restaurants, can you? Should be interesting to watch it play out. Me personally, I'm not going to join in. If I'm in the building, I'm on the clock. And if I choose to do something 'non-service' during that time, it's by my choice. Maybe for those 15 minutes they pay me $2.83 it's not minimum wage, but it balances out over the course of the week. Best of luck to those who do. I just hope the lawyers don't wind up richer than the plaintiffs.

Anonymous said...

What ever! You are a corporate drone and your NOT fooling ANYONE! The lawyers have emails from corporate on "how to Incorporate " side work and open/closing duties! U r a fool if you don't join- as this is money owed to those who were FORCED to endure B.S. work condition! So good luck on ur own asswipe ;)

Anonymous said...

The 30% rule is in the DOL field operation hand book- and the supreme court , just saying.
Oh - and ur a tool, too!

Anonymous said...

Edit-20%* not 30%

Anonymous said...

So if u do join the lawsuit besides filling out the online questionnaire do they ask anything else or do u have to sign or send your pay stubs

Anonymous said...

No pay stubs- they will call u after u fill it out. All is confidential, so don't worry :)

Anonymous said...

Tips eat up your hourly wage.2.13 quickly no matter how you want to suger coat it most side work is basically. Done for free!! Nice try!

Anonymous said...

You are KIDDING me when you say that servers are paid minimum wage for opening and closing duties, I personally would observe managers clock EVERY one out before work was even completed to save labor costs. Finally Goliath (Darden) has met its match.

Anonymous said...

When I worked for Capital, they started inputting our schedules into the POS systems and we couldn't clock in until our scheduled start time. Sounds reasonable enough, but rarely were the schedules correctly input into the system. This meant that you had to run around the restaurant for 3 or 4 laps to find a manager to manually clock you in, or just start doing your setup until one surfaced. This could be 20 or 30 minutes. By the time you did get them to do it, you lost wages, and they wouldn't adjust your time back unless you demanded it. All too often they would crack jokes along the lines of "you make waiter wage, you're not losing any real money." Upper management incentivizes this practice by making it wildly inconvenient for the store managers to manually adjust the in times for employees. Every change to the time in clock has to be signed for by both the employee and manager in a special record. Managers never want to go get the special book, so they avoid doing it at all. It may only amount to about a little bit out of your hourly pay if you are a server and you make all your money on tips anyway, but it adds up company wide to quite a lot of money. If a few servers stole that much money from the restaurant, Darden would file felony charges. I hope they get what they deserve.