Lawsuit targets pay policy of Orlando based Darden Restaurants
ORLANDO, Fla.(AP)– Olive Garden’s parent company is being sued by a group seeking higher guaranteed wages for restaurant workers.
One Fair Wage filed the lawsuit against Orlando based Darden Restaurants on Thursday.
Darden has more than 167,000 hourly workers in the United States and Canada.
Darden Restaurants owns Longhorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House and The Capital Grille in addition to Olive Garden.
According to the lawsuit, Darden has a policy of paying tip earning workers as low as $2.13 per hour in the states that allow subminimum wage practices.
Tips are then added to their wages to ensure employees make minimum wage. Darden must make up the difference if the combined wages and tips do not make up the state or federal minimum.
One Fair Wage said the policy forces workers to put up with various harassment and discrimination, knowing if they complain they might get lower tips.
Seventy percent of tipped workers are women and restaurant workers report higher levels of sexual harassment than any other profession, according to the group.
In a statement, the company said the dispute is with wage laws not Darden itself.
Darden Restaurants said tipped workers can earn an average of $20 per hour. The company also recently raised its minimum wage in an effort to better compete for scarce workers as it emerges from the pandemic.
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