Darden lawsuit expands to 50 plantiffs

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By Sandra Pedicini, Orlando Sentinel 3:00 p.m. EST, November 16, 2012

A federal lawsuit alleging Orlando-based Darden Restaurants underpaid servers has been expanded from two plaintiffs to 50.

The legal action now includes former and current employees at Darden’s restaurants across the country, including Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.

The lawsuit, filed in September in federal court in Miami, accuses Darden of requiring servers to work off the clock and making them perform too much non-tipped work such as cleaning. It was originally filed on behalf of two former employees of LongHorn and Olive Garden in Florida and Georgia.

A Darden spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday. When the original suit was filed, Darden said it believed the claims were baseless.

One of the two original employees was removed from the suit because he had worked for Darden more than three years before it was filed. The new employees added to the suit all fall within the three-year statute of limitations, said David Lichter, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.

Attorneys are seeking collective-action status, which could potentially add thousands of employees to the suit.