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  1. Business

Outback Steakhouse parent sued over allegations of required unpaid work

Published Nov. 15, 2014

A federal court has conditionally certified a nationwide class of more than 100,000 hourly employees of the Outback Steakhouse chain, owned by Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, over allegations of required off-the-clock work by hourly workers resulting in potential minimum wage and overtime violations.

According to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, all hourly employees of Bloomin' Brands' Outback Steakhouses must be notified of the class action and have the option to join the lawsuit.

The case originated in fall 2013 when former Outback employees Brooke Cardoza and Cody Hancock filed suit in Nevada on behalf of all hosts, bartenders and other hourly Outback employees during the past three years. The plaintiffs allege that Bloomin' Brands, which owns more than 600 Outback Steakhouse restaurants, forced Outback employees to perform unpaid labor — typically for 15 minutes but sometimes for as long as two hours — before being able to clock in for scheduled shifts. Unpaid time also allegedly occurred after the shifts, when employees were made to undergo unpaid training sessions, as well as for unpaid but mandatory meetings or time worked at promotional events benefitting the company.

The original lawsuit refers to these periods worked before and after the on-the-clock pay period as "Outback Time."

Bloomin' Brands denied wrongdoing and said the lawsuit lacks merit.

Named plaintiffs now added to the suit come from Florida and eight other states. As of October, 239 current and former employees from 27 states had opted into the lawsuit, even prior to initiation of the court's notification process.

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