The allegedly underpaid food servers and cooks at TGI Fridays do not have the luxury yet to exclaim ‘Thank God It’s Friday.’ Through a collective action suit against the company they managed to gain the promise of being paid the amount which was denied them the past few years. But the settlement deal that promises as much as $19.1 million in backwages apparently also carries unacceptable provisions. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres rejected the settlement saying it has provisions that did “not pass muster”.
Judge Torres found that it included releases of claims other than those being litigated and some confidentiality requirements. On September 28, the parties submitted a revised version addressing those points.
The settlement stands to benefit around 28,000 present and former employees of TGI Fridays. The $19 million settlement is also believed to be one of the largest in recent years.
The wage and hour case arose from TGI Friday’s alleged practice of systematically denying its workers (waitstaff and cooks) their proper wages. In a lawsuit filed early 2014 the workers alleged that TGI Fridays chronically underpaid them by disregarding or not recording a portion of their actual work hours and also forcing the workers to perform jobs not normally part of their paid duties.
As a whole the suit brought nationwide collective action claims under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York labor law class claims on behalf of thousands of employees against TGI Friday’s and its parent company at the time, the Carlson Restaurants Inc.
News reports said there have been efforts of the restaurant owners to dodge responsibility. There have been changes in the registered owner of TGI Fridays. At the same time, there have been separately inked deals with other employees reportedly to prevent them from joining the suit.
The district court of New York certified the workers in January 2015. A year and a half later it also approved what the workers’ described as their “hard-won” demand to include in the case other related wage and hour complaints, despite the TGI Friday’s objections. On June 2016, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres allowed TGI Friday’s workers to expand their wage-and-hour collective action suit. It permitted additional allegations related to their claims under federal, New York and New Jersey law and under the wage laws of eight other states.
FLSA reminders to other restaurant owners and workers
The restaurant workers’ case sheds light on these group of workers’ unique difficulties at work. If you think you are also not getting paid properly for all the hours you’ve worked or jobs performed, click here Your action will not only give justice to your case but also to similar employees. #