Darden Lawsuit

Darden Lawsuit

Up to 300,000 current and former Darden Restaurants employees will be invited to join a lawsuit filed against the company last year alleging it underpaid servers.

A federal judge earlier this month granted what’s called “conditional certification of a nationwide class” in the lawsuit, filed last year in Miami. Orlando-based Darden is being required to provide names and addresses of people who worked as servers and bartenders between Sept. 6, 2009, and Sept. 6, 2012, for several of its brands, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse. Those people will be notified they have the right to join the lawsuit, said David Lichter, an attorney for the employees.

“It will be some fraction of that” 300,000 who will actually opt to join, Lichter said.

Darden said in an email it is relatively easy to get the initial certification that the plaintiffs’ attorneys received. Darden is pursuing decertification, which if granted means that those employees invited to join the lawsuit would be dismissed from it. They could pursue claims on their own, though.

“We follow the law and believe these allegations are baseless and not at all reflective of how we operate our business,” Darden said in an emailed statement.

The lawsuit, which currently has more than 50 plaintiffs, accuses Darden of forcing employees to work off the clock.

Sonny’s updates image
Winter Park-based Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q is updating its image – starting with a new name. The company is now simply Sonny’s BBQ.

It also will start using a new logo, which boasts “local pitmasters since ’68.” The company said its restaurants will start getting new décor, too.

New restaurants coming to The Grove
Several new restaurants will open in the second phase of Tavistock Development Co.’s expansion ofThe Grove at Isleworth. Dexter’s, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and BurgerFi will all open at the center, which will have 200,000 square feet when completed.

Tijuana Flats introduces Braille menus
Tijuana Flats has added Braille menus at its 93 restaurants.

The Maitland-based restaurant chain said the menus came about after a suggestion from employees atSocial Ventures in Jacksonville, which creates jobs for people with disabilities. Some of its employees are blind.

Darden expands in Latin America
Darden Restaurants recently signed agreements to operate more restaurants in Latin America.

Grupo Piramide will develop Darden’s Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Dosil S.A. will develop the concepts in Peru. Both of the new franchisees already operate other American casual-dining and quick-service restaurants.

With these new agreements, Darden will have operations in 12 markets throughout Latin America. Darden recently signed a deal with International Meal Company, which will operate Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse in Brazil, Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Darden has also had franchisees in Mexico and Puerto Rico for some time.

Grupo Piramide operates American brands such as Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s. It has a total of 662 restaurants and more than 19,000 employees.

Dosil S.A. runs Chili’s, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King. It has a total of 302 restaurants and 11,000 employees.

Case Introduction

Case Introduction

Case Introduction

Case Introduction

This website provides information about the Alequin v. Darden Restaurants, Inc. case.  This lawsuit claims that Darden Restaurants, Inc. and its related companies (“Darden”) failed to pay proper wages or overtime pay to its tipped employees, such as servers, as required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

In this lawsuit,  Darden’s current and former servers and bartenders from the restaurants listed  have joined together to seek back wages owed to them for the time spent doing general maintenance or preparatory duties, which they performed for less than minimum wage:

  • Olive Garden
  • Red Lobster
  • Longhorn Steakhouse
  • Bahama Breeze
  • Seasons 52

Specifically, the 54 named Plaintiffs allege that Darden required them and other servers to perform work while off-the-clock. Plaintiffs claim that they were required to report to work and begin work at the start of their scheduled shifts, but were not allowed to clock into Darden’s time card system until their first customers arrived.  Similarly, Plaintiffs assert that they were required to punch out of Darden’s time card system and continue working until their assigned tasks were finished. As a result, Plaintiffs allege that Darden did not pay them significant amounts of wages to which they are entitled.

Plaintiffs also allege that Darden paid them wages below the applicable minimum wage, due to their status as tipped employees.  Plaintiffs expected to make up the difference by working for tips from customers.  However, Plaintiffs claim that Darden directed them and other servers to perform significant duties that would not generate tips such as general maintenance and preparatory work without paying proper wages for such work.  Plaintiffs assert that, as a result of the nature and scope of these non-tipped duties, Plaintiffs were entitled to receive, but Darden did not pay, the full applicable minimum wage.

The Second Amended Complaint also alleges that Darden has retaliated against certain named Plaintiffs by either terminating or taking negative action against them as a result of filing this lawsuit.

Over 19,000 current and former Darden servers and bartenders have joined this action.