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California Restaurant Workers Win Legal Battles for Unpaid Wages

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Restaurant operators are one of the most commonly named offenders in wage theft lawsuits. From small family-owned diners to global chains and four-star establishments, wage theft is rampant among restaurant owners and managers. Not only do restaurant workers spend hours on their feet to provide valuable services to their customers, they also have to keep a close eye on their wages, overtime, and tips.

Successful Unpaid Wage Lawsuits Against Restaurants in California

There are many ways an employer can steal wages from workers, including paying less than minimum wage, denying meal and rest breaks, and requiring employees to pay for things that should be provided by the employer. However, many employees do not know that they can band together and file a single claim against an employer for lost wages and penalties. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded more than $40 million in unpaid back wages to over 45,000 restaurant employees, making it likely that many violations go unreported.

Restaurant workers have recently gotten justice from several restaurant chains, including:

Dave and Buster’s

A class action suit filed by 2,350 Dave & Buster’s employees in California settled for $1.3 million, holding the chain accountable for failure to pay current and former employees the correct wages or provide required breaks under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Jack in the Box

Over 7,700 employees filed a punitive class action against franchise managers of restaurants owned by MarLu Restaurant Group, including Jack in the Box. Defendants offered a settlement of $2.5 million for unpaid wages, failing to provide meal breaks, and violating payroll rules by failing to offer payment in the form of a check.


In 2016, McDonald’s settled a claim filed by workers in California, Michigan, and New York who alleged that managers illegally erased hours from their timecards and ordered them to work off the clock. The $3.75 million settlement also offered compensation for unpaid overtime and failure to reimburse employees for time spent cleaning their uniforms.


Two line cooks sued Tacolicious in 2015 for denial of meal and rest breaks, inaccurate wage statements, and illegal wage deductions. The restaurant chain settled for $900,000 in 2017.


If you are a restaurant employee, you should always check your pay stub carefully to make sure you receive the full amount of your wages. If you think your employer may be guilty of wage theft, please feel free to use our website as a resource in your claim, or learn more about your rights in our FREE book, California Truck & Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide to Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back

William Turley
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