Fine dining restaurant to pay US$600,000 to settle wage theft lawsuit

A nationally renowned restaurant in the United States has agreed to pay US$600,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit over alleged wage theft.

The lawsuit was filed against The Willows Inn back in 2017, when former employees of the restaurant alleged that it had violated wage and state labor laws, including “failing to pay minimum wage for all work performed, overtime wages, and to provide or pay for rest and meal breaks under Washington law.”

Under the terms of the settlement, some 99 employees participating in the class action lawsuit will recoup about 75% of their wages, an amount that will total roughly $600,000. Management at The Willows Inn has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the preliminary settlement.

In a phone call with the Seattle Times, The Willows Inn’s owner and head chef Blaine Wetzel reportedly denied the allegations levelled against him and his business, though revealed that his attorneys had advised him to settle rather than risk a prolonged legal battle that had the potential to run up a far larger bill.

Per the newspaper, this is not the first time that The Willows Inn has been accused of wage theft.

Back in 2017, the restaurant was fined $149,624 by the US Department of Labor for illegally requiring entry-level members of staff to work for free during a one-month trial period.

Earlier this month, we reported on a UK restaurant chain facing allegations that it had asked its furloughed staff to loan part of their wages back to the business to cover National Insurance and Pension payments. You can read more on that here.

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