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employment

P.F. Chang’s Servers

Belt, Council, and Harris et al. v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.
Court File No. 18-cv-03831-AB (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)

In July 2018, the three named plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of themselves and all other servers against P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation.

The complaint alleges that P.F. Chang’s did not pay its servers the full federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for time spent performing non-tipped work (often referred to as “side-work,” such as rolling/polishing silverware, cleaning work areas, preparing food or work stations, re-stocking work stations, etc.).  The lawsuit alleges that P.F. Chang’s improperly paid its servers the “tip credit” minimum wage (which permits an employer to apply tips that servers earn towards its minimum wage obligation in certain circumstances) for all hours worked even though servers spent more than 20% of their time performing non-tipped work.  Due to the underpayment of minimum wages for each hour of work, the lawsuit also alleges that P.F. Chang’s did not pay overtime compensation at the correct overtime rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.  The lawsuit, filed as a collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and as a class action under Pennsylvania and Virginia laws, seeks unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime compensation, double damages, and additional state law damages.

Nichols Kaster, PLLP has partnered with attorneys Benjamin L. Davis and George E. Swegman with the law firm The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl in Baltimore, Maryland in this matter.

Type of Case

Unpaid Minimum Wages and Unpaid Overtime Wages

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Am I eligible?

If you worked for P.F. Chang’s as a server at any time between July 2015 and the present, you regularly perform(ed)  side-work more than 20% of your time working in a workweek, and P.F. Chang’s applied the tips you earned towards its minimum wage obligation for the hours you spent on side-work, instead of paying you the full federal hourly minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) for such work, you have a claim under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act for additional compensation and double damages.

Additional Information

Which Locations Are Included?

This case seeks to include servers who worked for P.F. Chang’s anywhere across the country.  Servers who worked in states that do not permit employers to pay servers using “tip-credit” minimum wage, such as California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota and Alaska are excluded.

How Do I Join This Case?

In order make a minimum wage and/or overtime claim under the FLSA, you must complete a consent form and return it to our office. To fill out the form electronically on your mobile device or computer, please click here.

What Time Frame Does This Case Cover?

There is a time limit under federal law, called a statute of limitations, that allows an employee to recover unpaid wages for hours worked within two years of the individual signing up to join the lawsuit by completing the consent form referenced above. If we can prove that P.F. Chang’s 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 us 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 the Hours I Worked?

If you have records related to your work with P.F. Chang’s, please preserve and keep them until we ask you for them. However, you do not need to have records of your work hours to participate in this case. If P.F. Chang’s did not keep accurate time records, or permit you to record all of your time worked, most courts will permit you to make a good faith estimate of your work hours. We will seek any records the company may have of your hours worked through this lawsuit. Please ensure you do not destroy any documents or data you have that relate in any way to your work for P.F. Chang’s.

What About Retaliation?

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against a person for joining a lawsuit to reclaim unpaid wages. If you suffer retaliation, you may have additional claims against your employer. If you currently work for P.F. Chang’s and you believe you may be the victim of retaliation for joining or participating in this lawsuit, 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?

Right now, we are hoping to talk to as many employees as possible to learn more about their potential claims. If you work or worked as a server or have information regarding servers at P.F. Chang’s, please contact the case clerk, Jacob Skold, at jskold@nka.com or call (612) 256-3200.

How Do I Learn More?

To learn more about this case, feel free to contact the case clerk, Jacob Skold, at jskold@nka.com or call (612) 256-3200.

Case Updates

  • September 27, 2019

    P.F. Chang's Case Update

    In late 2018, the Department of Labor significantly revised its interpretation of the FLSA.  Under its current interpretation, the DOL believes the FLSA places little limitation on the amount of related, untipped labor (such as sidework) a tipped employee may perform while still being paid the tip credit minimum wage.  In March 2019, P.F. Chang’s argued to the Court that this case should be dismissed because of this new interpretation. On August 15, 2019, Judge Anita Brody rejected PF Chang’s argument, confirming that the DOL’s new interpretation does not impact the minimum wage claims we have asserted and permitting the case to proceed into discovery.  Judge Brody agreed with Plaintiffs that, despite the new DOL interpretation, the FLSA demands that a tipped employee who spends more than 20% of their time in a workweek performing untipped labor related to their tipped occupation, such as sidework, must be paid the full minimum wage.

    You can read more on the courts decision here.

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