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Judge denies class action for employees suing Florida’s Darden Restaurants

A U.S. judge has ruled that food servers and bartenders employed by Darden Restaurants Inc., which owns chains including Olive Garden, the Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse, cannot sue the company as a group for alleged wage violations.

U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, signed an order last decertifying the class, which could have numbered as many as 218,000 people, according to court records.

Each server can instead file an individual lawsuit against the company, Dimitrouleas wrote.

The workers are considering their next moves, said a spokeswoman for David Lichter, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys on the suit.

The Orlando-based company is the largest U.S. operator of full-service restaurants.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, alleged that servers were short-changed by policies that circumvented an automated time-clock system.

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