National Restaurant Chain Named In Labor Law Case

A major national restaurant chain was recently named in a class action suit for underpaying workers who rely on tips. The lawsuit claims that TGI Friday’s forced workers to begin working well before customers arrived and work after they’d left, without ever paying them minimum wage and overtime.

The potential class action case was brought by four former employees from New York and Virginia. The case has not yet named a figure for damages, though the lead attorney says that it is likely in the millions of dollars. TGI Friday’s has more than 500 U.S. locations and employs some 17,700 workers.

Court documents accuse TGI Friday’s and its parent company, Carlson Restaurants, of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state labor laws. Specifically, TGI Friday’s is accused of using a central time-keeping system that the plaintiffs argue was used to shave hours off of employee time records. Additionally, tipped employees were routinely required to perform non-tip producing tasks such as cleaning, preparing food and restocking condiments, yet were not paid minimum wage for the time spent on these tasks.

The suit also says that restaurant managers were given orders from corporate to continually reduce the money spent on overtime payment and other tasks and that managers would then manipulate the time-keeping system accordingly. As a result, the suit asks for minimum wages, overtime, lost tips and other back wages for current and former TGI Friday’s workers.

Another labor law violation mentioned in the suit says that workers were required to pay for their own uniforms, a pricey investment that lowered their pay below the required minimum wage level. TGI Friday’s has said that it is aware of the lawsuit, but does not wish to comment on any pending litigation.

Unfortunately, cases like this one are all too common. Every few months another national company is hit with claims that it has systematically underpaid thousands of its employees, either by refusing to pay overtime, manipulating time-keeping systems or failing to ensure that tipped workers earn at least the minimum wage at all times. Given how common these instances are, it’s crucial that employees who feel they may be taken advantage of reach out to an experienced labor lawyer who can advise them of their rights under federal and state law. Ensuring that you are fully aware of what the law says is the best way to guarantee you are not taken advantage of by your employer.

Source: “TGI Friday's Accused of Labor Law Violations,” by Bruce Horovitz, published at on April 21, 2014.

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