New allegations leveled in Outback wage lawsuit

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Attorneys in the Las Vegas office of the law firm Wolf Rifkin Shapiro Schulman & Rabkin are betting they can extract some dough from the owner of Outback Steakhouse through a series of class-action suits.

The firm says Bloomin’ Brands, corporate parent of Outback, has policies that force “tens of thousands of minimum-wage employees” to perform certain work-related functions without being paid. Further, the suit alleges the company violates the Fair Labor Standards Act in an array of ways with policies that, among other things, don’t let workers take breaks and don’t “provide the required time and opportunity for nursing mothers to express milk.”

The company has denied the allegations and is fighting the suit.

Wolf Rifkin originally sued Bloomin’ Brands in October on behalf of two employees, Brooke Cardoza and Cody Hancock. The suit said the two were typical of minimum wage workers employed by the steak-themed restaurants who should receive back pay for unpaid work hours.

A recent amended complaint expanded the scope of the original suit. It says in addition to not paying employees for required work-related hours, the company also failed to meet minimum wage and overtime pay standards set by state and federal law. Plaintiffs include current and former Outback Steakhouse workers in nine states.

“The amended action seeks to recapture pay, plus appropriate damages, for all plaintiffs and the many thousands of similarly situated employees in the FLSA collective action and various state-law class actions as a result of defendants' failure to pay wages for off-the-clock work required by Outback,” the law firm said in a news release.

“This lawsuit seeks to vindicate the simple proposition that employees should be paid for their work,” said Don Springmeyer, the Wolf Rifkin attorney who filed the suit. “Outback Steakhouses run on the labor of tens of thousands of minimum-wage employees, and it is outrageous that a multibillion-dollar corporation further squeezes those hard working people out of their lawfully-earned wages.”

There was no immediate response from Bloomin’ Brands to the amended suit.

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