The restaurant chain TGI Friday's Inc., held by one of the world's largest family owned business enterprises, faces a national class action lawsuit for allegedly violating labor laws by systematically underpaying tipped workers, according to Outten & Golden LLP and Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP.
The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL), was filed by four former TGI Friday's workers from the New York metro area in New York federal court on behalf of current and former servers, bussers, runners, bartenders, barbacks, hosts, and other tipped workers at the restaurant chain.
According to the complaint, TGI Friday's requires tipped workers to arrive at work well before the start of customer service and to stay at work after the restaurant closes without receiving the minimum wages and overtime to which they are entitled under the FLSA and NYLL.
The lawsuit also accuses restaurant management of using a centralized time keeping system to "shave" hours from employee time records and allowing employees to work "off-the-clock" performing non-tip producing "side work" including cleaning the restaurant, preparing food in bulk for customers, cutting produce, refilling condiments, and stocking and replenishing the bar and service areas. At other restaurants, these duties customarily are assigned to "back-of-the-house" employees, who typically receive at least the full minimum wage rate of pay.
The lawsuit seeks to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, spread-of-hours pay, misappropriated tips, uniform-related expenses, unlawful deductions, and other wages for current and former workers at TGI Friday's restaurants throughout the nation owned and/or operated by Carrollton, Texas-based Carlson Restaurants Inc., Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., and TGI Friday's Inc. nationwide.
Justin M. Swartz and Sally J. Abrahamson, of Outten & Golden LLP's New York office, and Joseph A. Fitapelli and Brian S. Schaffer, of Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, of New York, represent the restaurant workers.
Attorney Justin M. Swartz said, "It is shameful for a big company to pay its hard-working, low-wage restaurant workers less than they earned. Maximizing profits is not all that should matter."
Attorney Brian Schaffer said, "We believe employees at many of the hundreds of TGI Friday's restaurants were affected by the companies' practices. We allege the labor violations occurred through manipulation of the restaurant chain's sophisticated timekeeping system, which is capable of tracking multiple job codes for different work assignments, and pressure by restaurant managers."
The case is "Jamel Flood, et al., v. Carlson Restaurants, Inc., et al.," U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Case No. 14-CV-2740. More information is available at www.tgifridayslawsuit.com.
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