A New Class Action Lawsuit Against the Cheesecake Factory Chain
A recent Florida lawsuit revolves around a Cheesecake Factory lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Muransk. Mr. Muransk is a partner at the Cheesecake Factory along with his brother-in-law. The couple bought the Cheesecake Factory from the original owner (along with the majority of the stores) in July of 1994. According to the complaint, Mr. Muransk and his brother-in-law caused financial hardships to the franchise by telling the general manager that they would purchase the entire business if the owner(s) of the Cheesecake Factory agreed to give them control of all of it.
On Jan. 6, just before the scheduled grand opening, the Cheesecake Factory suddenly closed its doors.
In most recent days, Mr. Muransk has allegedly opened another business in Cooper City, FL then filed a personal class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida regarding its labor violations, stating that the Cheesecake Factory owed him money. He is asking that a judge give him an injunction on the operation of the restaurant chain. According to the complaint, one of his main reasons for bringing the suit is that he and his brother-in-law have personally gotten many complaints from restaurant workers regarding their low wages and difficult work schedules.
Previously, the Cheesecake Factory had suggested gratuity amounts to its employees.
According to the complaint, the owners asked its employees to make up the suggested gratuity amounts or else they would lose their jobs. Mr. Muransk is arguing that the amount of suggested gratuity was not legally appropriate because of the language in the agreement, which suggested that the employee actually lose money if he agrees to the suggested gratuity. According to the complaint, this language in the agreement violates Florida statutes regarding minimum wage laws, and the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that such language is unenforceable in court. According to the complaint, Mr. Muransk, has hired an attorney to represent him in the case. This is the second major lawsuit that has been filed against the Cheesecake Factory this month.
The other lawsuit involves a Cheesecake Factory coupon book that has math acrobatics in it. The coupon book was given to patrons during their purchase of one of their favorite sandwiches. The alleged owner of the Cheesecake Factory is responsible for notifying his employees of the possible receipt of a math problem on some of the purchased sandwiches. After the math problem was pointed out, all of the math problems were solved without any problem, and the coupon was appropriately returned to the patron. However, this coupon was then used in several other stores.
Both lawsuits point to similar labor violations. Specifically, the complaints paint the Factory as a place where they place their entire workforce, who are generally non-unionized, against sweatshirts and other apparel.
Further, the complaint states that the factory’s leadership does not place any emphasis on providing safe working conditions for their employees. Further, the company apparently relies upon informal written agreements with their janitors stating that if the janitors do not abide by the labor violations, that they will be summarily dismissed from the workforce management solutions firm.
In its defense, the Cheesecake Factory states that they have many different kinds of workers’ compensation insurance plans in place.
Additionally, they contend that this is the only reason that the employees have been given a math problem coupon book. Yet, according to the complaint, the actual problem was that the employees were required to carry these card numbers when they were entering the factory premises. Further, the complaint further states that the card numbers were not contained in the forms of receipts that the employees were required to fill out at the front desk or when asking for services. The employees claim that once these card numbers were lost, they had no way of tracking them down.
The company maintains that these are mere clerical errors and that they are not responsible for the injuries sustained by the individuals who were summarily dismissed from the Cheesecake Factory workforce.
In fact, they claim that there are no records that the individual suffered any injuries while employed at the Cheesecake Factory. Yet, this is contrary to what the court has found previously. Prior to allowing the case to proceed, the court has held in several cases that there was sufficient evidence that the Cheesecake Factory was aware of the dangers that their employees were subjected to and yet did nothing to protect them from these hazards.
The eleventh circuit’s ruling could open the door for hundreds of former Cheesecakes Factory employees to seek monetary damages based upon the exposure that they received as a result of the restaurant chain’s negligence. In the past, in cases such as this, there have been attempts by the courts to force the restaurant chain to turn over its records, but those attempts have failed. Now, with a stronger case in the hands of the defense, it appears that the lawsuit will move forward and may reach a significant settlement.