By David Madden
EGG HARBOR, N.J. (CBS) — A former manager at a Chickie’s and Pete’s restaurant in South Jersey has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit in federal court, contending she was fired after voicing concerns over how employees were paid.
Sharon Chase says in her lawsuit that she was fired two months after talking to federal investigators about alleged payroll practices within the chain.
But the termination agreement she signed in January indicates she was let go from the Egg Harbor restaurant for misconduct — specifically, undercharging catering customers, an allegation the suit claims is false.
“We think the allegations are unfounded, and the company intends to vigorously defend against them in federal court when the opportunity arises,” says Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Chickie’s and Pete’s.
Since the feds started looking into things, the chain has put new payroll practices in place. No charges have been filed, but there are several dozen pending lawsuits from current and former employees suggesting that company skimmed their tips (see related story) and engaged in other unfair employment practices (another related story).