CHICAGO — A server for a high-end chain of Chicago steakhouses recently filed an unpaid overtime lawsuit on behalf of herself and others to recover back wages and overtime for the hours spent studying for recurring menu knowledge tests. The plaintiff claims she routinely spent two to three hours studying off the clock every two-week test period to gain the knowledge base she needed to adequately perform her job duties and the employer should compensate her for that time.
The lawsuit claims the defendant, Lawry’s Prime Rib, sent employees home with study material for written menu tests which the defendant would then use to assign work schedules and table sections. According to the claim, the defendant benefited greatly from the practice, saving the restaurant time and money.
Furthermore, the defendant violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Illinois Minimum Wage Act by failing to keep full and accurate records of the time servers spent studying. About 40 current and former servers could potentially end up joining the class action overtime pay lawsuit, but the claim currently does not list a specific number.
While the defendant may not have explicitly instructed its servers to spend time preparing for the menu tests, the nature of the practice to test servers on their knowledge base may in fact constitute actual work since it became part of a system necessary for servers to perform their jobs. Although two or three hours per week may not seem like a great amount of time, the savings to the defendant not to pay these wages to dozens of servers over the course of several years could add up to substantial income.
The plaintiff’s suit seeks unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay for her hours spent studying off the clock, statutory penalties under state and federal wage laws, and reimbursement for attorney’s’ fees to litigate the matter. The amount of unpaid wages could vary between two or three years, depending on whether the court finds the defendant intentionally violated federal wage laws.
Restaurant Server Overtime Pay Lawsuits
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