Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse faces Federal Lawsuit after being accused of wage and tip theft

March 5, 2024 by No Comments

On Tuesday, a potential class action lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Ohio against Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, the owner and operator of Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, a high-end restaurant chain with locations in several major cities. The lawsuit, filed by former server Johnathan Lamb, alleges violations of federal and state labor laws regarding wage and tip treatment.

Specifically, the lawsuit contends that:

  • Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse allegedly paid Mr. Lamb and other employees below the federally mandated and state-specific minimum wage rates.
  • Unlawful Tip Retention: The lawsuit claims that the restaurant chain unlawfully retained a portion of servers’ and bartenders’ tips and distributed them to “back-of-house” employees who did not directly interact with customers and did not contribute to earning those tips.
  • Unjust Enrichment: The complaint alleges that Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse has been unjustly enriched by the aforementioned practices.

The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the company in violation of these laws and requiring them to:

  • Repay Liquidated Damages: Compensate employees for the unpaid wages and unlawfully withheld tips, potentially including penalties.
  • Pay Monetary Penalties: Face additional financial sanctions as determined by the court.

Mr. Lamb further alleges that Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse:

  • Misused the Tip Credit: While the lawsuit acknowledges the use of a “tip credit” (allowing a lower base pay for tipped employees), it contends that the restaurant failed to comply with the legal requirements for this practice.
  • Engaged in Unlawful Tip Pooling: The complaint alleges that the restaurant implemented a tip-pooling system that distributed earned tips to “back-of-house” employees who did not significantly contribute to generating those tips.
  • Required Uncompensated Work: Mr. Lamb asserts that servers and bartenders were required to perform duties outside their designated serving hours and at a sub-minimum wage rate. These duties included tasks like cleaning, preparing restaurant supplies, and setting up tables.

The lawsuit represents hundreds of current and former employees across Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse chains in Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, and potentially other locations. However, the court’s approval is necessary for the case to proceed as a class action.

Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment has denied these allegations, stating through its CEO that the lawsuit is from a “disgruntled employee” and that the company will “defend themselves vigorously to the fullest extent of the law.”

It is important to note that this is an ongoing legal matter, and the claims presented in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

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