Law360 (April 14, 2020, 4:20 PM EDT) -- A Florida restaurant group has been hit with a federal court suit alleging it didn't pay its servers any wages during the last two weeks of March, just before it was forced to close or reinvent its locations as takeout-only establishments because of COVID-19.
Shannon Allen said in her complaint, filed Monday in Tampa, that Sarasota-based Tableseide Restaurant Group LLC informed employees on April 3 that it would not be paying any wages for the period from March 17 to March 31, when its five restaurant brands were all still open. She also claims the company misappropriated all tips and failed to pay overtime.
Allen, a Sarasota resident, is seeking to pursue her suit as both an opt-in collective action for claims brought under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and as an opt-out class action for alleged violations of Florida law.
"Defendant was aware, or should have been aware, that plaintiff and members of the proposed collective FLSA and Rule 23 class performed work which required they be compensated at least the minimum wage prescribed by federal law," Allen alleged.
The proposed FLSA collective class and class action class would both cover all individuals who worked as a server or in a similar position for Tableseide at any time in the two years prior to the lawsuit being filed, according to the complaint.
Allen estimates that at least 70 servers worked for Tableseide during the two-week period when the company allegedly withheld pay and says that the company employed hundreds of individuals within the two-year period.
The family-owned company operates several restaurant brands in Florida, including Lemon Tree Kitchen and Libby's Neighborhood Brasserie, plus a catering service, according to its website.
According to the restaurant websites, takeout was available from Libby's as of Tuesday, but the other restaurants have temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
The suit seeks judgments that Tableseide willfully violated the FLSA and state law and seeks awards of unpaid wages, including overtime, and tips owed to Allen and similarly situated servers, plus prejudgment interest and attorney fees and costs.
Tableseide did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Allen's counsel also did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Allen is represented by Nicholas J. Castellano II and Y. Drake Buckman II of Buckman & Buckman PA.
Counsel information for Tableseide was not immediately available.
The case is Allen v. Tableseide Restaurant Group LLC, case number 8:20-cv-843, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
--Editing by Alyssa Miller.
Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that Tableseide operates a restaurant chain in which it only has a minority ownership interest.
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