National restaurant company to pay more than $200,000 to state, workers after shorting employees’ pay

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

The parent company behind several popular restaurant chains has agreed to pay more than $200,000 in penalties and restitution after allegedly failing to compensate Massachusetts workers for obligatory training time, according to the Attorney General’s office.

Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., the company that operates Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonesfish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, agreed to pay $210,000, which will include restitution to 2,565 employees across the state, authorities announced Thursday.

“Companies cannot cut corners in order to save costs and must pay their employees for the hours they work,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “As a result of a single complaint to our office, thousands of Massachusetts workers will now receive restitution for the wages they earned.”

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The AG’s office launched an investigation into Bloomin’ Brands practices after a server and staff manager at one of the company’s 22 Massachusetts restaurants reported she had not been compensated for obligatory online training sessions outside of the workplace, authorities said.

Authorities found that the company had used two systems to track employees’ hours: one for when they worked in the restaurant, and another when they were trained online. Bloomin’ Brands later failed to merge the two systems when processing employees’ hours, and failed to fix the error in “a timely manner,” according to the AG’s office.

The system has since been updated to fix the error, and Bloomin’ Brands has agreed to allow the AG’s office to review its payroll and timekeeping records at the end of the year, authorities said.

“Our employees are the heart of our business, and our training programs are comprised of hands-on components in the restaurants coupled with on-line sessions,” Cathie Koch, a Bloomin’ Brands spokeswoman, said in a statement to Boston.com. “We comply with all wage and hour laws, and use new technology to help ensure everyone is fully compensated for their time.”

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