Discriminating against restaurant employees is illegal in the state of New Jersey and throughout the United States. In December 2020, multiple Olive Garden employees filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it demonstrated discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation. Olive Garden has denied the allegations.

Employees claimed they experienced a pattern of discrimination

Five Black employees who worked at an Olive Garden in Times Square reported seeing a similar pattern of discrimination. In the lawsuit, they claimed that their supervisors denied them the chance to take breaks and deliberately assigned them the undesirable tables. Since Olive Garden doesn’t pay minimum wage, this affected their ability to collect tips and make a living wage.

In addition to racial discrimination, the employees alleged that they were also treated badly due to their gender or sexual orientation. The lawsuit claims non-Black and non-LGBT employees were given better shifts and hours. This also affected their ability to work, collect tips and make enough money to support themselves.

In a statement, Olive Garden denied the allegations. A spokesperson for the restaurant claimed that Olive Garden pays its employees a decent salary and gives everyone opportunities for advancement. The representative also claimed that Olive Garden has a culture of diversity and fairness that benefits everyone on its team.

Are you a victim of workplace discrimination?

If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, you may feel pressured to ignore it or play it off as a joke. Your supervisors might even encourage you to drop the issue. However, discrimination creates a hostile work environment that can make it difficult for you to sustain a living wage, especially if half your income comes from tips. An attorney may help you initiate a discrimination lawsuit against your employer.

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