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Buffalo Wild Wings, Whose CEO Opposes Minimum Wage Raises, Loses $1.8M Lawsuit

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith

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Diversified Restaurant Holdings, a company which owns a string of Buffalo Wild Wings, has agreed to a whopping $1.8 million settlement to close two lawsuits in Michigan and Illinois which.  The company filed a motion on September 30th in U.S. District Court asking a judge to approve the settlement which will affect over 1,000 current and former employees.  The largest settlement payment to a singular employee would be just over $7,200 while the average settlement will be roughly $1,000.  Some of the employees will receive additional payments for their part in the litigation.

Speaking to MLive, attorney Douglas M. Werman explained:

“The lawsuit was directed to a longstanding and illegal practice that is too common in the restaurant industry: using tipped employees to perform non-tipped work while paying them less than the full minimum wage.  These cases and this settlement demonstrate that tipped employees have the power to change their employer’s’ practices and recover the wages that they owed. We are very proud of this result.”

Tammy Wolverton, who worked at the Fenton, Michigan Buffalo Wild Wings, explained that the company regularly forced tipped employees such as servers and bartenders to wash dishes, clean the restaurant, and take out the garbage.  The practice is a common way for restaurant owners to cheat the system and lower labor costs.

When the case first came forward, Douglas Werman gave a more detailed account of the underhanded practice:

The lawsuit seeks to address a serious and widespread problem suffered by Ms. Wolverton and tipped employees in general: the practice of paying tipped employees a sub-minimum tip-credit rate of pay, but requiring such employees to perform non-tipped duties, or significant amounts of non-tip producing duties.  While this practice may result in a substantial reduction of the employer’s labor costs, it both deprives the tipped employee of the opportunity to earn tips and prevents them from earning the legally mandated minimum wage.”

The case is not the first time Buffalo Wild Wings has been in the news for wage violations.  In July the company’s CEO, Sally Smith, came out against the “fight for $15″ effort, saying her company might be less likely to hire young workers if wages rose.

Hashtag dogwhistle.


One Comment on “Buffalo Wild Wings, Whose CEO Opposes Minimum Wage Raises, Loses $1.8M Lawsuit”

  1. I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings for two years, and I missed the deadline to send in my paperwork for the lawsuit! Does anyone know how I can get my money now?!! Lol

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