Sub-minimum wage servers sue Bob Evans restaurants for ‘forced labor’

Bob Evans restaurant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 442-restaurant Bob Evans chain likes to say its founder believed in “treating strangers like friends and friends like family.” And it says those principles are still alive today at every one of its restaurants.

But they apparently don’t apply to its sub-minimum wage servers, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, about 20 miles southwest of the company’s headquarters.

The complaint accuses the chain of violating state and federal minimum wage laws by paying servers in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee so little their work amounted to “forced labor.”

Though the law allows restaurants to pay servers who receive gratuities less than the $7.25 minimum wage, the exception only applies to work that generates tips, such as serving food, or activities that support it, like setting tables or refilling condiments.

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