California-based BJ's Restaurant has settled a claim with employees that they lost wages when employees were required to be on call but then not given the opportunity to work. The company has 50 restaurants throughout the state. The settlement provides for the abolishment of the standby policy and awards damages to the affected employees in the amount of $1.5 million.
One of the plaintiffs worked for BJ's Restaurants for two years. He left and returned to the company in 2008. At that time, he learned that BJ's had implemented an on-call policy for certain shifts. If the restaurant was busy, a manager called servers on standby, who had one hour to report to work. The employee objected to the policy because he was unable to make plans for this time, as he had to be available to report immediately if called. The 33-year-old server stated that he was required to be available for hours, unpaid, and usually was not called to work. After his complaints in 2009 were ignored, the employee filed suit against the restaurant chain seeking unpaid wages. The suit later became a class action.
The settlement applies to California BJ's Restaurant employees who worked from March 2007 until the standby policy was revoked in March 2011. A Superior Court judge signed the preliminary settlement. Employees have until Sept. 6 to file a claim or opt out, and then the settlement will receive final approval. BJ's Restaurant declined to comment on the case.
When an employer fails or refuses to pay an employee wages to which he is lawfully entitled, an employment law attorney may be able to assist. It may be possible to negotiate a settlement with the employer or go to court if necessary.
Source: The Fresno Bee, "BJ's Restaurant employees to share $15 million settlement", Quinn Western, July 16, 2013