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The Wage and Hour Revolution comes to Outback Steakhouse

Class action suit against Outback Steakhouse alleges violation of Fair Labor Standards Act

Civil rights legislation of the 1960’s provided a legal basis for any number of discrimination claims in employment matters. A recent development is another type of employment suit that is being filed in increasing numbers: wage and hour suits. In the employment arena, the civil rights movement has spawned a new wage and hour revolution.

A recently filed class action suit of the “wage and hour” type alleges Outback Steakhouse and parent company  violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The suit, filed in Nevada federal district court Oct. 4, claims the company denied employees paid and unpaid breaks, required them to start work prior to scheduled shifts and failed to provide adequate break time and private settings for nursing mothers, among other allegations.

Responding to request for comment, a Bloomin’ spokeswoman said via email, “We deny these allegations and will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

Why an Increase in Wage and Hour Suits?

This increase might be a result of the economy picking up steam as well as “social media,” and the public’s inclination to post their grievances to Facebook, Twitter, etc… An increased number of lawyers are now looking to bring awareness and sensitivity to these issues. But advocates of workers are more apt to claim a different reason: the inability of the Department of Labor (DOL) to properly ensure employers are in compliance with the law. As a result of the DOL’s lack of resources, workers have had to turn to courts to ensure they are paid fairly. According to Cathy Ruckelshaus, the legal co-director for the National Employment Law Project, “The employers were emboldened because there wasn’t enforcement, so the violations increased. There was a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of violations.”

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