Blue Plate Restaurant Co. Sued for “Employee Wellness” Charge
An Arden Hills man filed a lawsuit against Blue Plate Restaurant Co. at the end of November after he was charged an extra three percent on his bill for an “employee wellness” charge. The lawsuit, filed as a class action, alleges deceptive trade practices, theft, fraud and unjust enrichment. The lawsuit claims that the restaurant’s wellness charge was not advertised in an obvious location on their menu and it was not advertised at all on their website. It is unclear, according to the complaint, whether the three percent fee was optional or mandatory, nor was it clear which employees benefit from it. The lawsuit seeks an injunction and at least $50,000 in damages.
This case touches on a new phenomenon that is becoming increasingly popular. The “Wellness Charge” is becoming a way for restaurants to pay for healthcare benefits for employees and to attract new employees, in light of the labor shortage in the industry. The Plaintiff’s attorney in this case, however, believes that these charges are not actually used to help many of the servers or cooks, but rather that it only goes to full-time employees of the restaurant.
Blue Plate Restaurant has not filed an answer at this point, however they have retained a spokesperson for the issue. The restaurant’s spokesperson released a statement regarding the employee wellness charge, saying that it does, in fact, go towards employee benefits and the charge is not optional. The restaurant did state that in-house menus have an advertisement regarding the employee wellness charge.