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A case against Just Salad brought on by delivery workers was mostly dismissed last week.

Just Salad CEO and franchisees off the hook in 4-year legal battle over delivery worker tips

Some allegations allowed to proceed, but federal judge finds most charges ‘moot or without merit’

A federal judge in New York last week dismissed most of the charges in a wage-and-hour lawsuit filed by a group of in-house delivery workers for the fast-casual chain Just Salad.

Four years ago, 16 in-house delivery workers sued the New York City-based salad chain, its CEO Nick Kenner and 12 of its franchisees claiming wage and tip-credit violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. On Feb. 25, the case was mostly dismissed by Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York Court, who picked apart the arguments and found them “either moot or without merit.”

A spokesperson for Just Salad said, "We are pleased with the judge's decision to dismiss these claims based on lack of merit. Compensation and benefits for our employees and delivery partners continue to remain a top priority.”

In the original complain, plaintiffs said the fast-casual brand illegally retained tips, took unlawful kickbacks, failed to pay the minimum wage, failed to pay overtime wages, failed to reimburse drivers for work-related purchases or uniform maintenance costs, and failed to keep adequate payroll records.

The delivery workers asserted they were also assigned tasks to deliver things between locations rather than for customers, arguing they should have been paid the full minimum wage, rather than a tipped-wage rate.

Additionally, the workers assert that they were robbed of the $1.99 delivery fee meant to go towards delivery workers ($2.50 in some locations). They also argued that some of the money from the tip pool was used to cover that fee when it wasn’t paid by the customer.

In 2018, a similar class action suit was brought up and denied for the same reasons.

In the opinion, Koeltl also denied the plaintiffs’ request for class certification.

Just Salad asserted that the delivery people cannot make claims against 12 of the locations because they did not work for all 12 locations. Just Salad argued that it was a franchise-based business, not operating as a single business and not liable as a joint employer. That motion was ultimately approved by the judge and became a pivotal point in judgement for Just Salad.

The law group Miranda Slone Sklarin Verveniotis LLP stated that the court dismissed the case because of the “plaintiffs’ own inconsistent and sometimes contradictory statements” and that the Judge ultimately completely “dismissed 8 of the plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.”

The judge allowed the charges of kickbacks and uniform maintenance costs to advance in addition to other claims not relating to Kenner or the franchisees directly.

The plaintiffs for this case did not return Nation’s Restaurant News’ request for comment.

All charges against Nick Kenner, the chain’s CEO, were also dismissed.

TAGS: Finance
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