Slutty Vegan — a plant-based restaurant chain known for challenging the reputation of veganism as uptight and pleasureless — and its affiliate Bar Vegan are each facing wage and hour lawsuits from at least six former employees in Brooklyn and Atlanta.
Most recently, three former employees at Slutty Vegan’s Brooklyn location filed a complaint April 4 with a New York district court, alleging the restaurant violated New York law and the Fair Labor Standards Act by refusing to pay them promised bonuses, misclassifying them and not paying proper overtime.
In Clarke, Adams and Cook v. Slutty Vegan, Inc. and Slutty Vegan ATL LLC, two plaintiffs alleged they were hired in May 2022 as managerial staff but were then required to perform nonexempt tasks, including assisting the line staff to cook food, serving customers and cleaning, resulting in their misclassification. Both also alleged they were denied bonuses of up to $7,000 per quarter that were promised during the hiring process.
Those managers and a third plaintiff also alleged overtime violations. The managers said they regularly worked more than 40 hours per week and did not receive overtime pay. The third, a certified trainer, was paid an hourly rate, but the restaurant allegedly miscalculated his rate of pay and underpaid him using New York’s “spread of hours” rule.
The third plaintiff also received only two uniform shirts despite working five days per week, according to the complaint, and the restaurant “did not pay him the required uniform maintenance pay.”
The lawsuit is the second faced by Slutty Vegan or its associated properties in recent months. In November, a plaintiff filed a putative collective-action complaint against Bar Vegan, a Slutty Vegan entity based in Atlanta, along with its three owners.
In Georgia v. Bar Vegan LLC, et. al., the plaintiff, a bartender, and her class alleged Bar Vegan claimed a “tip credit” that allowed them to pay below the minimum wage, but did not allow tipped employees to keep all of their tips and instead required them to share up to 25% of tips with nontipped staff — a practice the U.S. Department of Labor has cracked down on in the past.
Pinky Cole, the founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan, took to Instagram to defend herself against the allegations in January, saying she was unfamiliar with the employee and situation because she did not run day-to-day operations at Bar Vegan.
“The people who know me, know I ONLY operate in integrity, so this is a wicked narrative especially when this is nothing more than an allegation,” she said in the post.
The Slutty Vegan restaurant chain, which began in Atlanta in 2018, has grown rapidly, with several locations throughout Georgia, one in Alabama and two in New York City.