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Walker Bros. Pancakes Servers Lose Appeal In Class-Action Lawsuit Over Tips

Federal court says pancake chain properly informed servers

walker brothers
Walker Bros. Original Pancake House in Wilmette.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

A group of waiters who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Walker Bros. chain —which includes The Original Pancake House— aren’t happy after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision. A judge ruled that the restaurant was not breaking federal and state laws after the servers accused the chain of using tip credits to compensate them for side duties not pertaining to serving customers. Those tasks include cleaning and food prep, something that could take 10 to 45 minutes daily.

The lawsuit, Schaefer v. Walker Bros., could set a precedent for other Chicago-area restaurants, according to the Cook County Record. One attorney said the decision will work to discourage servers to file similar lawsuits as the ruling clears up confusing language in the laws.

Robert Schaefer, who worked at three Walker Bros. since 2005, and 11 other workers opted into the suit, which also alleged the chain paid servers less than minimum wage for the work. That's despite state law requiring restaurants to pay at least 60 percent of minimum wage for those tasks. The complaint also said Walker Bros. failed to properly inform workers of how they were to be paid. The judge ruled Walker Bros. put up posters with an adequate explanation and that the servers should have been aware.

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