Darden Restaurant Lawsuit: Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse Sued for Violating Labor Laws
Sep 07, 2012 12:11 PM EDT
On Thursday, two employees of Darden Restaurant Inc. filed a class action suit against all Darden restaurants including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Longhorn Steakhouse for violating federal labor laws, by paying consistently paying its employees below minimum wage salaries. The lawsuit was filed in a Miami federal court under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The lawsuit will represent both current and past employees (from 2009) of the company and is seeking to earn millions of dollars, attorney's fees and interest. The number of plaintiffs is likely to be more than 1,000 people according to the case's head attorney David Lichter.
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According to Lichter, "Darden has a companywide pattern and practice of paying its employees below minimum wage and less than what the law requires...We're seeking not only to correct the wrongs that have occurred at Darden, but hopefully this will stimulate change across the country," as reported by the Associated Press.
The accusations pitted against the company seem valid particularly because the Labor Department found similar results in a 2011 investigation in which Darden was made to pay $30,800 in a fine and $25,000 back in wages to employees of an Olive Garden restaurant in Mesquite, Texas. Then again in 2011 Darden a $24,000 civil penalty for violating wage laws.
However, Darden spokesman, Rich Jeffers denies all accusations telling the Associated Press, "We take any claims of impropriety seriously and we routinely investigate them...Each of our brands complies with all federal and state labor and employment laws, and we're proud of our standing as an employer of choice."
Although Darden is facing similar suits in other states across America, this case is the first to include all employees past and present from all the company's 2,000 restaurants.