Darden Restaurants sued over pay policy
A group that seeks higher wages for restaurant workers is suing Olive Garden’s parent company, saying its pay policies make workers more likely to endure harassment and discrimination.
One Fair Wage filed the lawsuit Thursday against Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants. Darden employs more than 167,000 hourly workers at 1,800 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to the Olive Garden chain, it owns Longhorn Steakhouse and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.
The lawsuit says Darden has a policy of paying its tipped workers subminimum wages as low as $2.13 per hour in the 43 states that allow that practice. Tips are added to those wages to ensure employees make minimum wages; if wages and tips don’t equal the state or federal minimum, Darden must make up the difference.
In a statement, Darden said One Fair Wage’s dispute is with federal and state wage laws. Darden said its tipped workers earn an average of $20 per hour and it recently raised its minimum wage.