Five Guys Class Action Challenges Employee Pay Practices

The popular burger chain Five Guys was hit with a class action alleging the company unlawfully discriminates based on gender leading to unequal pay.

Lead plaintiff, Jody Finefrock, alleges in her lawsuit that Five Guys’ employee pay practices are illegal. She says that as a female employee she was discriminated against and fired when she reported the discrimination.

“Ms. Finefrock was one of the most objectively successful Five Guys’ restaurant General Managers in her region. Ms. Finefrock began working at a corporate-owned Five Guys restaurant in July 2012 as a Crew Member,” states the Five Guys class action lawsuit.

“Over the course of the next several years, Ms. Finefrock diligently and methodically overcame obstacles to be promoted to Shift Leader, Assistant General Manager, and finally General Manager. Ms. Finefrock held the position of General Manager until her retaliatory termination in September 2015. Despite being a model employee as a Crew Member, Shift Leader, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager, Ms. Finefrock was consistently and systematically paid less than her male peers for the same work in each position.”

According to the Five Guys class action, Five Guys’ employment practices violate the Civil Rights Act. The plaintiff says that she and other employees were subject to the same illegal employment practices.

“Five Guys’ District Managers and Area Managers are overwhelmingly male,” says the Five Guys class action. “As a result, Five Guys’ top executive leadership has executed a top down wage policy, which consistently, systematically, and willfully discriminates on the basis of sex/gender by paying its female employees less than their male colleagues, in the same positions, for the same work.”

The plaintiff says that she and other female workers at Five Guys were paid less than their male counterparts as a part of a deliberate and willful discriminatory payment practice by the company.

“The wage disparity between female and male employees, at all levels of management within Five Guys’ corporate-owned restaurants, is based solely on gender,” alleges the lawsuit.

The plaintiff says that she noticed the discrepancy between her pay and her male coworkers’ pay when she rejoined the restaurant. Previously, she had risen through the ranks to become a shift leader, but she was demoted to crew member and paid less.

She alleges that male crew members hired received a higher rate of pay as well. Further, when she was promoted to shift manager, she was paid only $8 per hour, while male shift managers received $9.50 per hour.

The plaintiff claims that when she was again promoted to assistant general manager, she discovered she was making $5,000 less in salary than a male assistant manager she was training. Then again, when she was promoted to general manager, she found she was making $2,000 less than a male general manager.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff and several other female Five Guys employees confronted management about the pay gaps; however, this resulted in the plaintiff being put on a performance improvement plan in retaliation and ultimately terminated.

The plaintiff claims that Five Guys should pay damages to her and other female employees for gender discrimination as well as back pay.

The Five Guys Gender Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit is Finerock v. Five Guys Operations LLC, Case No. 1:17-cv-02214-SHR, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

If you suspect you are being paid unfairly, contact the attorneys at Bradley/Gromacher to help evaluate your claim.

Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.