Class action suit against owner of Chili’s gets green light

Mission Valley Chili's RestaurantSAN DIEGO — A judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging that Brinker International Inc. — which owns and operates about a half-dozen well-known restaurant chains throughout California, failed to provides employees meal and rest breaks or premium wages in lieu of breaks, an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

The complaint — which affects more than 100,000 low-wage Brinker employees in California — also alleges that the company is liable for waiting time penalties for failing to pay wages due at termination.

Texas-based Brinker responded by issued a statement saying, “As a matter of company policy, Brinker does not discuss details of pending litigation.”

During the 13-year class period, dating back to 2000, Brinker owned and operated restaurants throughout California, including Chili’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cozymel’s Mexican Grill and On the Border Mexican Grill Cantina, according to the plaintiffs.

An attorney for the plaintiffs, Kyle Van Dyke, said a hearing is scheduled Oct. 22 on the merits of the case.

San Diego Superior Court Judge William S. Dato granted the plaintiff’s motion for class status late last month.

The lawsuit was originally filed in August 2004.