Two former employees of the Cheesecake Factory have launched a class-action lawsuit against the international restaurant chain, claiming it engaged in time shaving and other illegal labor practices. The allegations, filed in New York’s Southern District Court on April 5, date back to 2011 and could affect as many as 100 employees of the company across New York state, according to the suit.
The suit was filed against the Cheesecake Factory by Mirian Qquehue, a former cook at the restaurant chain in Westchester and Yonkers who was employed from 2011 until December 2021, and Daniel Ramos, who worked as a busser in Yonkers beginning in December 2021. Qquehue and Ramos claim they and other New York employees of the company should have been paid weekly, rather than bi-weekly, because more than 25 percent of their job consisted of physical tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and moving kitchen equipment.
Employees who spend at least a quarter of their work time performing physical duties are classified as “manual workers” under New York labor laws and must be paid weekly, according to the New York Department of Labor.
The lawsuit also alleges that the restaurant chain engaged in the illegal practice of “time shaving” — rounding down employee hours in order to pay them less — and failed to pay overtime wages to Ramos and as many as 20 other employees working at the Cheesecake Factory in Yonkers, at 140 Market Street, near Archer Street.
The class-action suit seeks a monetary amount to be determined in court, plus attorney’s fees and unpaid overtime and wages for employees of the Cheesecake Factory in Yonkers. Louis Pechman of Pechman Law Group, who is representing the former workers, estimates that damages could “go into the eight digits.”
The Cheesecake Factory declined to comment on the allegations.
Qquehue and Ramos filed the class-action suit on behalf of Cheesecake Factory employees, who worked for the company at any of its locations in New York state over the last six years, according to the suit. The lawsuit could affect as many as 100 current and former employees across the state, including waiters, bartenders, and other restaurant staff who were tasked with performing physical responsibilities on the job, the suit alleges.
Similar suits aren’t uncommon in New York City. In August, former employees of the Cecil Steakhouse filed an ongoing class-action lawsuit against the Harlem restaurant, alleging they suffered from time shaving and were paid bi-weekly, despite being classified as manual workers.
The Cheesecake Factory operates 306 locations between the United States and Canada, 12 of which are located in New York state. In 2018, the restaurant chain was forced to pay $4.5 million in lost wages and fines by the California Labor Commissioner, after a janitorial subcontractor hired by the company denied workers overtime, paid them less than minimum wage, forced them to work without pay, and denied them proper meals and breaks.
Update: April 12, 2022, 12:55 p.m.: This article was updated with additional comments from the lawyer representing the former Cheesecake Factory workers.