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Michigan AG Nessel to Intervene in Lawsuit to Ensure Workers Get Past-Due Wages

LANSING – After receiving dozens of complaints of payroll fraud from workers who claim they have not been paid, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel yesterday filed a motion to intervene and a motion for a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit against metro-Detroit based umbrella company Epicurean Group in Oakland County Circuit Court. The legal move comes just one week after Nessel charged a Lansing business owner with 13 felonies for alleged payroll fraud.

The Attorney General can intervene in any case as a plaintiff to protect the rights of the people of the state of Michigan.

Nessel is intervening because the plaintiffs’ complaint failed to provide for payment of wages to the former employees after abruptly closing its doors in July. In the original lawsuit, the company’s new owners – the plaintiffs – allege the former owners breached their January 2019 purchase agreement but made no mention of ensuring employees would be made whole for the hours they worked since the business changed owners.

“While decisions were being made to sell a company, its workers appear to have been left in the dark and without pay,” Nessel said. “It’s important that any resolution in this case properly restores any and all wages these employees worked hard for. And since no one else has kept those hard workers in mind during this process, I am keeping my promise to Michigan workers and will absolutely fight to ensure they are paid in full.”

The following restaurants – all located in Southeast Michigan – are included in Epicurean’s portfolio:

  • Epic Catering & Events, Inc., now known as Trowbridge Catering, Inc.;
  • Milk & Honey Detroit, Inc.;
  • VI Chophouse Detroit, Inc., now known as Trowbridge Chophouse, Inc.;
  • Nomad Grill, Inc., now known as Trowbridge Nomad, Inc.;
  • Northern Lakes Seafood Restaurant, Inc., now known as Trowbridge Northern, Inc.;
  • Plaza Deli Southfield, Inc., now known as Trowbridge Deli Southfield, Inc.;
  • Soul Café, LLC, now known as Trowbridge Soul, LLC; and
  • The Best Team Ever, Inc.

Wage theft rates vary by industry but some of the highest are in the food service industry. Epicurean operated a total of eight restaurants and catering companies, employing dozens of servers and food prep workers among others.

Nessel reminded workers that if they have not been paid the wages they earned, they can file a complaint with her office or call 833-221-1099. In addition, if workers believe they are a victim of one of these specific entities, they should file a complaint with her office and the state’s Wage and Hour Division or by calling 855-4MI-WAGE (855-464-9243).

A copy of the motion can be read here.