Suit Seeks Unpaid Wages, on Behalf of Restaurant Employees at the Capital Grille Restaurants in California

LOS ANGLES, CA – Workers at California Capital Grille restaurants were deprived of wages and rest breaks according to a complaint filed today by MALDEF against Darden Restaurants, owner of Capital Grille, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden. This litigation is part of the campaign for “Dignity at Darden,” a national movement led by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, demanding the world’s largest full service restaurant group address the claims of their employees, ranging from legal violations such as wage and hour violations to abuses such as being overworked and having to work while sick.

Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel, said, “The Capital Grille cannot force their workers to work off the clock or keep their workers from taking legally mandated breaks. We applaud the workers’ bravery by coming forward and seeking to end these illegal conditions for themselves and others." The restaurant's practices, the MALDEF lawsuit charged, violated state labor laws. MALDEF seeks to recover for its clients all unpaid minimum wages and unpaid overtime compensation.

These Los Angeles employees are part of a group of more than 70 workers nationally who have come forward to join the campaign with some of them filing complaints of wage violations in lawsuits being litigated across the country against the Capital Grille. Many of the allegations have been investigated by the “Dignity at Darden” Campaign.

Julian Hernandez, a class representative and ROC-LA member, said, “I came forward because my manager did not let me take breaks, and I was denied the pay that I had earned. I joined the Dignity at Darden Campaign to ensure that workers get the respect they deserve.”

Originally filed in Chicago in Federal District Court with state class claims for New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Maryland, and Chicago workers, the lawsuit was severed into five separate jurisdictions after the judge and parties agreed that this was the best course of action due to the growing size and complexity of the various state claims. Thus, today the lawsuit has be severed and will be litigated in regional US District Courts in Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago (Maryland & Miami is currently pending).

Legal organizations from across the country represent workers in their claims against the Capital Grille - in Los Angeles, MALDEF; in New York City, Lewis, Greenwald, Clifton & Nikolaidis, P.C.; and in Chicago, The Workers’ Law Office. To view all three of the full complaints filed today, click here.

Stephanie Cho, Lead Coordinator of ROC-LA, added, “Importantly, this campaign is bigger than just this litigation. Many workers have issues that are not about ‘what is and is not legal’ but rather 'what is and is not fair and just.' A company making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits can afford to treat their workers better, to not pay poverty wages, and to be a model in the industry.”

The “Dignity at Darden” campaign was originally launched in January of this year by Capital Grille workers and ROC United in Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago. In a few short months, the campaign has expanded to include workers in Miami and Los Angeles.

The lawsuit, Rosas et. al v. Capital Grille Holdings, Inc. et al was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Today's filing is an amended version of an original complaint, which was filed on February 29, 2012. The amended legal complaint is available online. Click here.

MALDEF is committed to achieving a just outcome for the workers at these restaurants and employees throughout the United States who may be subjected to an unlawful and oppressive work environment.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund