Applebee’s Workers Win Compensation In Wage Class Action Lawsuit By Matt O’Donnell
Applebee’s Workers Win Compensation In Wage Class Action Lawsuit
By Matt O’Donnell
AppleIllinois LLC, which operates 34 Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill restaurants, faces a class action lawsuit from servers, bartenders and hostesses who claim up to 20 percent of their shift was spent performing non-tipped work. AppleIllinois did not pay the workers minimum wage for the time spent on these duties.
The Applebee’s workers also claim in the class action lawsuit that they had to contribute 2.5% of sales per shift to a tip pool, which often exceeded 15% of total tips actually received.
U.S. District Judge Geraldine Brown sided with the workers last week in a ruling for partial summary judgment.
“The evidence demonstrates that AppleIllinois employees working at tip credit rates did those duties for much longer periods of time than can be fairly characterized as occasional, incidental or insignificant,” Judge Brown ruled. “Rather, employees working at tip credit rates were regularly used instead of minimum wage workers to do those tasks.”
“AppleIllinois’ executives themselves recognize that some tasks are plainly outside a tipped occupation,” such as mopping floors or cleaning bathrooms, Brown added.
However, “it is striking how often the current employees (in declarations that were submitted by AppleIllinois) describe their regular duties as including the very things that the executives state should not be done by tipped employees: cleaning bathrooms including toilets, sinks, mirrors and urinals; wiping down walls; polishing paneling with Pledge or lemon oil; mopping or scrubbing floors; and loading the dishwasher,” Brown continued.
“In addition, they report doing other tasks that are so far removed from a tipped occupation that they cannot be reasonably regarded as ‘related’ duties as that term is used in the dual jobs regulation, for example: washing windows; cleaning chandeliers; picking up trash in the parking lot; taking out garbage; restocking bathrooms; and dumping and refilling the ‘sani’ bucket.”
“The court concludes that Plaintiffs have demonstrated that, as a regular practice, AppleIllinois employed its tipped workers in ‘dual jobs,’ that is, in both tipped and non-tipped occupations,” Brown added.
“Contrary to AppleIllinois’ fears, enforcing the dual jobs regulation does not prohibit ‘a team-oriented approach to serving customers.’ It simply requires that when tipped employees are also required to perform the work of minimum wage workers, they get paid the minimum wage.”
Judge Brown ruled that Plaintiffs in the Applebee’s worker class action lawsuit may establish damages at a future hearing.
The case is Glenn Driver, et al. v. AppleIllinois, LLC, Case No. 6-cv-6149, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.