Wage lawsuit filed against Bluegrass Hospitality Group for alleged Fair Labor Standards Act violations

LEXINGTON, Ky.–A tipped employee of Drake’s filed a collective action lawsuit Wednesday against the restaurant’s parent company, Lexington-based Bluegrass Hospitality Group, LLC (BHG). The federal lawsuit, led by plaintiff Lauren Boyer on behalf of herself and other similarly situated servers and bartenders, was filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky. It accuses BHG of failing to pay federal minimum wages to its employees at its Drake’s restaurant chain across the United States.

The lawsuit alleges that BHG did not provide servers and bartenders with the legally required notice regarding the use of a tip credit toward their wages. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must inform employees if tips received will count towards meeting the minimum wage requirements. The complaint asserts that BHG compensated its employees below the federal minimum wage while requiring them to perform non-tipped duties for more than 20% of their workweek and for over 30 continuous minutes, which the law considers beyond the scope of their tipped occupations.

Plaintiff Lauren Boyer, who worked at a Drake’s restaurant in Cookeville, Tennessee, represents three proposed collectives in the lawsuit. These include the Tip Credit Notice Collective, the 80/20 Collective for those who spent excessive time on non-tipped duties, and the Substantial Side Work Collective for those engaged in side work for over 30 continuous minutes.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and legal fees. It comes at a time when wage issues within Lexington’s service industry are increasingly under scrutiny, reflecting a broader movement for fair labor practices and equitable treatment of tipped employees.