TGI Friday’s agrees to settle wage suit for more than $19M

New York Post Lisa Fickenscher
September 21, 2017

TGI Friday’s is finally ready to pay up.

The 52-year-old restaurant chain has agreed to pay a whopping $19.1 million to settle accusations that it chronically underpaid its servers, bussers, runners and bartenders for years, according to a court filing.

The proposed settlement which would result in the largest wage and hour payout ever, according to industry experts is the culmination of more than three years of class-action litigation in the US Southern District of New York.

Alleged violations at TGI Friday’s included skimping on overtime wages, forcing tipped workers to share their earnings with non-tipped workers and not keeping proper wage records.

Some 28,000 former workers are entitled to get a piece of the payout in the settlement with Carlson Restaurants Inc., which owned TGI Friday’s at the time of the alleged violations, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The total value of the unpaid wages, court papers show, was allegedly as high as $91 million.

The settlement, if approved, will eliminate the risk and delay of years of further litigation and put money in the hands of the low-wage workers who earned it, ” the plaintiffs wrote in a court document that was unopposed by Carlson.

Carlson, a privately held company which owns some 1,300 hotels including the Radisson chain, was sued in 2014 over the TGI Friday’s wage flap by a dozen employees in nine states. It sold TGI Friday’s in 2014 to Sentinel Capital partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners.

As reported by The Post, Carlson for years tried to dodge a massive settlement by paying off potential plaintiffs who tried to join the lawsuit. As of January 2015, Friday’s had paid out $416,000 in settlement money to 19 workers, according to a plaintiffs’ attorney at the time.

Some workers took as little as $2,500 to go away, although one received an $82,000 payment, plaintiffs’ attorney Justin M. Swartz said at the time, likening the payoffs to a game of Whac-A-Mole. ”

There are 900 TGI Friday’s restaurants in 60 countries, according the company’s web site.

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The settlement, subject to court approval, was revealed Tuesday after being reached late last week, court papers show.

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