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The Copper Hen

Dunham-Sunde and Sonaram et al. v. The Copper Hen Cakery, LLC d/b/a The Copper Hen Cakery and Kitchen
Case No. 27-cv-17-17288 (Hennepin County, Fourth Judicial District)

On November 10, 2017, servers who formerly worked for The Copper Hen Cakery, LLC d/b/a The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen (“The Copper Hen”) filed a lawsuit in Hennepin Country’s Fourth Judicial District Court for violations of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (“MFLSA”).  The Plaintiffs bring their claims on behalf of themselves and all individuals employed as servers for The Copper Hen within three years prior to the filing of the Complaint.  The Plaintiffs allege that The Copper Hen unlawfully required them to share, or pool, a portion of their tips with other employees.

The Complaint alleges that under the MFLSA, tips are the property of the individual who receives them; thus, employers are prohibited from requiring their direct-service employees to pool and share tips.  The Complaint further alleges that as a result of its tip-pooling requirements, The Copper Hen denied servers the full amount of the gratuities they were entitled to under state law.  The named Plaintiffs, and members of the Putative Class, seek damages equal to their diverted tips or gratuities, liquidated damages, and civil penalties.

Type of Case

Unlawful Tip-Pooling

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Am I eligible?

You may have a claim under Minnesota state law if you worked for The Copper Hen as a server at any time during the last three years and were required to share, or pool, a portion of your tips with other employees.

Additional Information

Is This a Class Action? What Does that Mean?

This case is a potential class action under Minnesota state law. What does that mean? A class action allows one or more people to sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. In order to proceed as a group, though, the Court must certify the class. Because we are in the early stages of the case, this has not happened yet, but we intend to seek the company’s agreement or file the motion at the appropriate time asking the Court to grant class certification.

How Do I Join This Case?

At this point, you do not need to do anything to participate in the lawsuit. If the Court certifies the case as a class action, you will receive a formal notice about the lawsuit and will have the option to opt-out if you are not interested in making a claim. Otherwise, if you do not opt-out, you will automatically be included as a class member.

What Time Frame Does This Case Cover?

There is a time limit, called a statute of limitations, which allows workers to recover wages within two years of the date a lawsuit is filed with the Court. If we can prove that The Copper Hen willfully violated the law, the statute of limitations may be extended to three years.

Do I Have To Pay Anything?

You do not have to pay anything to the attorneys if you join the lawsuit. We are handling this case on a contingency basis. This means we will only be paid if the lawsuit is successful in obtaining relief either through a settlement or a final judgment, and that payment will only come out of that settlement or final judgment.

How Do I Prove I Have a Claim?

If you have records related to the days/hours you worked, gratuities you earned and/or were required to share with other employees, or any other records related to your employment with The Copper Hen, please preserve and keep them until we ask you for them. However, you do not need to have records to participate in this case. We will seek any records the company may have related to claims at issue in this lawsuit. If The Copper Hen did not keep records, most courts will permit you to estimate the amount you believe you are owed.

What About Retaliation?

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against a person for participating in a lawsuit to reclaim unpaid wages. If you currently work for The Copper Hen and you believe you may be the victim of retaliation, contact us immediately.

How Long Will This Case Take?

The length of this kind of lawsuit varies from case to case, but they typically last one to three years.

Is There Money Available Now?

No. This is a pending lawsuit. There is no money currently available and there is no guarantee that you will receive money for participating in the lawsuit.

How Can I Help?

If you have information regarding the tip-pooling practices/requirements at The Copper Hen, please contact the case clerk, Louis Hunter at lhunter@nka.com or call directly at (612) 256-3224.

How Do I Learn More?

To learn more about this case, feel free to contact the case clerk, Louis Hunter at lhunter@nka.com or call directly at (612) 256-3224.

Case Updates

  • September 10, 2018

    The Copper Hen Update

    Pursuant to the Notice of Class Action, you may read the full Order and memorandum Granting Motion for Class Certification and Granting Motion to Amend Complaint here.

    If you have any questions for the lawyers representing the class, please contact Louis Hunter directly by phone at (612) 256-3224 or by email at lhunter@nka.com.  The deadline to exclude yourself from the case is Saturday November 10, 2018 by 5pm Central Standard Time.

  • November 14, 2017

    Servers Represented by Nichols Kaster File Local Class Action Lawsuit Against The Copper Hen Alleging Minnesota Tip-Pooling Violations

    On November 10, 2017, servers who formerly worked for The Copper Hen Cakery, LLC filed a class action lawsuit in Hennepin Country claiming violations of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (“MFLSA”).  The Copper Hen is a local farm-to-table restaurant in Minneapolis that opened in 2014.

    The servers who filed the lawsuit allege that The Copper Hen required them to share, or pool, a portion of their tips with other employees.  Under the MFLSA, employees may voluntarily share tips, but employers may not require their direct-service employees to pool tips with indirect service employees.  The servers accuse The Copper Hen of violating this provision of the MFLSA.  The Complaint further alleges that as a result of its tip-pooling requirements, The Copper Hen denied servers the full amount of the gratuities they were entitled to under state law.

    “Servers work hard for their tips and are rewarded for great customer service and attentiveness.  It’s not fair or legal for their employers to use these tips to subsidize other wage payment obligations,” Plaintiff's attorney Rebekah L. Bailey of Nichols Kaster, PLLP explains.

    The plaintiff-servers brought their case as a class action and seek to include all individuals employed as servers for The Copper Hen during the last three years.  Their complaint pleads damages equal in amount to their diverted tips, liquidated (double) damages, and civil penalties, among other things, for themselves and the proposed class.

    Plaintiffs are represented by Rebekah L. Bailey, Steven A. Smith, and Paige C. Fishman of Nichols Kaster, PLLP, which has offices in Minneapolis and San Francisco. The case is entitled, Dunham-Sunde and Sonaram et al. v. The Copper Hen Cakery, LLC d/b/a Copper Hen Cakery and Kitchen, 27-cv-17-17288 (Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota).

    Additional information about the case may be found at www.nka.com or by calling Nichols Kaster, PLLP toll free at (877) 448-0492.

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