US Supreme Court denies certiorari in Applebee case

January 26, 2012 by

The US Supreme Court on January 17, 2012, turned down an appeal from Applebee’s International Inc., which is battling a lawsuit from more than 5,500 bartenders and servers accusing the restaurant chain of underpaying them.   The high court declined to hear Applebee’s case, which focuses on a practice in which restaurants pay employees reduced minimum wage by factoring in the extra boost provided by tips.

Known as a “tip credit,” the practice is banned in states such as California and Minnesota, but permitted in Missouri, where many of the plaintiffs work.  Many of those employees claimed that, because they spent more than 20% of their time performing duties such as cleaning and prepping, they should earn full minimum wage during hours worked without tips.

“It’s a really a different occupation,” said Tim Ronzelen, one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, who first filed the suit more than four years ago.  Applebee’s turned to the Supreme Court in October seeking to overturn an earlier ruling from a federal court of appeals in Missouri allowing the case to proceed to trial.  The company claims that prep work and cleanup is part of the employees’ tip-earning responsibilities.

Steve Larson
An experienced trial lawyer who handles both hourly and contingent fee cases, Steve has expertise in class actions, consumer cases, antitrust litigation, securities litigation, corporate disputes, intellectual property disputes, unfair competition claims, employment matters, and disputes involving family wealth. Steve regularly represents individuals and businesses in federal and state court and has obtained class-wide recovery in multiple class actions. A veteran practitioner, Steve's clients value his creative approach to resolving complex litigation matters.

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