July 25 2016
Restaurant Company with Burlington Location to Pay $210,000 to Employees Following Violation
By: Rich Hosford
A national casual dining restaurant company that has a Burlington location has agreed to pay $210,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations that it failed to pay more than 2,500 Massachusetts workers for required trainings in violation of state law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced last week.
Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., d/b/a Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, has agreed to pay $210,000 in restitution and penalties, the release states. The restitution will go back to 2,565 Massachusetts employees.
“Companies cannot cut corners in order to save costs and must pay their employees for the hours they work,” said AG Healey. “As a result of a single complaint to our office, thousands of Massachusetts workers will now receive restitution for the wages they earned.”
Bloomin’ Brands owns 22 restaurants in Massachusetts, including a Bonefish Grill in Burlington. There was also an Outback Steakhouse in town but it closed last year.
According to the release, the AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after it received a complaint from a server and staff manager who reported that she was required to routinely participate in online trainings but was not paid for the time spent completing them.
Further investigation revealed the company used one software system to track when an employee was physically present and working at the restaurant and a different program to track the time an employee spent completing online training programs, the AG’s office states. Bloomin’ Brands allegedly failed to include employees’ hours from the online training software program when processing hours for payroll. The company also allegedly failed to identify the extent of the problem and fix the software issue in a timely manner, resulting in the allocation of double alleged damages to the impacted workers through this settlement agreement.
Bloomin’ Brands has since made the necessary changes to its system and instituted quality control measures to help ensure workers are paid for all hours worked at the correct rate, the release states. The company has also agreed to a compliance plan through which the AG’s Office will review its payroll and timekeeping records at the end of 2016.
The AG’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws. Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state's wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website www.massworkrights.com.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Drew Cahill and Jennifer Scully and Investigator Leah Lucier, all of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.