Four dispensary employees asked an Illinois judge to certify a class in their suit against Curaleaf Holdings (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) alleging that MSO store managers pocketed more than $125,000 in stolen tip jar money meant for workers.
In a motion filed on Wednesday, the parties said Curaleaf employees nationwide were subject to the same tipping policies based on the Fair Labor Standards Act. The suit also spans Arizona, Illinois, and Massachusetts wage law.
Curaleaf has been battling the certification since March 2022, when plaintiff Morgan Heller sued the store where she worked, claiming the company had violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.
The company asked a federal court in June to dismiss the claims, saying that tip earnings were never part of the workers’ employment agreement and were upfront about it during hiring.
U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland would later end up denying that bid as moot after Heller filed her second amended complaint and added more plaintiffs, according to Law360.
In the certification motion, the plaintiffs analogized the various ways managers had justified redirecting tips to the myriad of barbecue sauce flavors.
“Like barbeque, Curaleaf’s tip theft as alleged in the second amended complaint, had certain regional flavors. Barbeque, be it Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City or Texas, is at basic slow-cooked meat and similarly, whether Curaleaf’s managers were stealing tips outright, confiscating and donating tips to charity or using the tips to buy lunches, it is at basic tip theft,” the employees wrote.
The class proposal covers all current and former hourly employees at any of its stores who were not paid the full amount of tips they earned since March 28, 2019. Plaintiffs noted that the Curaleaf’s dispensaries are directly owned and operated by the company and are all subject to the same policies and procedures.
This isn’t the first time the Curaleaf has found itself trading legal barbs with its employees. The U.S. National Labor Relations Board last month ruled that the company violated labor law by refusing to bargain with unionized workers at its Chicago location – a meaningful win for workers’ rights in the largest cannabis company in the world.