November 28, 2017
(Tacoma, WA) – Northwest steakhouse El Gaucho has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit targeting violations of employee wage and hour laws, according to lead attorney Darrell Cochran, of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala.
“We are pleased that El Gaucho acknowledged and agreed to address the problems identified in the lawsuit, so that its employees are being fairly compensated,” Cochran said.
The lawsuit was brought by a former server against El Gaucho and its management group MacKay Restaurant Management Group to correct unlawful wage practices in its Tacoma, Seattle and Bellevue restaurants that are believed to be common in the food industry.
“These employees took a lot of pride in their jobs and in being a part of El Gaucho,” Cochran said. “But the company wasn’t paying overtime correctly.” The lawsuit also alleged that El Gaucho was withholding tips and gave gift cards in lieu of pay.
“At the end of the day, employees were bringing home less money, and, in some cases, workers were making less than minimum wage,” Cochran said.
A Pierce County court granted preliminary approval of the class action settlement. Now, notification will go out to the estimated 400 current and former employees involved in the suit. The settlement covers compensation to the affected employees for the wage and hour violations, unpaid rest and meal breaks, improper tip pool distributions and violations of Washington’s automatic service charge requirements.
“Hardworking employees rely on tips and overtime to make ends meet,” Cochran said. “We are proud that we were able to deliver a settlement that corrects these practices and puts money back in employees’ pockets.”