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Case Name One Fair Wage v. Darden Restaurants EE-CA-0365
Docket / Court 3:21-cv-02695 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
This is a case about Darden Restaurants’ cash wage policy of paying employees less than the minimum wage and using tips to cover the difference. On April 15, 2021, One Fair Wage, an advocacy organization focused on eliminating the subminimum cash wage, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District ... read more >
This is a case about Darden Restaurants’ cash wage policy of paying employees less than the minimum wage and using tips to cover the difference. On April 15, 2021, One Fair Wage, an advocacy organization focused on eliminating the subminimum cash wage, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiff sued Darden Restaurants under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Represented by Gerstein Harrow and the National Legal Advocacy Network, the plaintiff sought declaratory relief and an injunction prohibiting Darden from maintaining its cash wage and tipping policies as well as monetary relief redressing the resources plaintiff diverted because of the policies. First, the plaintiff asserted that the defendant’s cash wage policy of paying tipped employees the lowest legally permissible cash wage caused employees to suffer sexual harassment because employees depended on customers for wages. Second, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s tipping policy of refusing to pool tips among employees or add a standard service charge to all bills caused employees of color to receive less in tips than white employees. The plaintiff filed a charge of sex and race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a right to sue before filing the complaint.

The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson. But the plaintiff declined to proceed before a magistrate judge and the case was reassigned to Judge Edward M. Chen.

The defendant filed several motions to dismiss on July 20, 2021, including a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On September 14, 2021, Judge Chen granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim because the plaintiff was not an employee of Darden and so did not have standing to sue under Title VII. 2021 WL 4170788. Judge Chen denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue and did not reach the question of subject matter jurisdiction. The case was dismissed with prejudice and the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit on October 12, 2021. The case is ongoing.

Laura Irei - 10/12/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Impact
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Darden Restaurants
Plaintiff Description An advocacy organization focused on eliminating the subminimum cash wage.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/15/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Fighting For Restaurant Workers
Gerstein Harrow LLP
Date: Apr. 15, 2021
By: Jason Harrow
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
10/12/2021
3:21-cv-02695-EMC
EE-CA-0365-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
04/15/2021
Complaint [ECF# 1]
EE-CA-0365-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
09/14/2021
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 30] (2021 WL 4170788)
EE-CA-0365-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Chen, Edward Milton (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0002 | EE-CA-0365-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0001
Harrow, Jason (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0001 | EE-CA-0365-9000
Maddali, Sheila (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0001
Nelson, Ryan H (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0001 | EE-CA-0365-9000
Williams, Chris (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Braham, Christopher Anthony (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0365-9000

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