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Darden Restaurants accused of underpaying servers

Suit seeks tens of millions of dollars from operator of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse

The restaurant company that serves up unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, endless shrimp and juicy steaks just got slapped with a labor lawsuit.

Yesterday servers from Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille sued Darden Restaurants Inc., the Orlando-based company that operates the restaurants, for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay minimum wage, failing to pay overtime wages and forcing waiters to work “off-the-clock” before or after their shifts.

The suit names only two plaintiffs but seeks to represent possibly thousands of individuals who are current or former Darden employees from 2009 to the present. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, the plaintiffs are seeking tens of millions of dollars in back pay and other compensation.

Darden Spokesman Rich Jeffers said in a statement that the company believes the claims “are baseless and fly in the face of our values and how we operate our business.”

But Darden isn’t a stranger to labor violations. Last year, the company paid more than $27,000 in back pay and a $24,000 civil penalty for labor violations involving 109 current and former Red Lobster employees in Lubbock, Texas, as well as $25,000 in back pay and a $30,800 fine for labor violations involving Olive Garden employees in Mesquite, Texas.

Read the Associated Press and Thomson Reuters for more information about the suit.

For more InsideCounsel stories about labor laws and restaurants, read:

Labor: State and federal agencies turn up heat on restaurants and contractors for wage and hour violations

Batali, Bastianich to pay $5.25 million for allegedly cheating workers

Supreme Court rejects Applebee’s appeal in labor lawsuit

Chuck E. Cheese fined for child labor violations

DOL scours restaurants for labor law violations

Ashley Post

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