WaiterPay – New York Labor and Employment Lawyers

Owners of Charleston Area Restaurants to Pay Nearly $1.2M in Back Wages and Damages


An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the owners of 13 Charleston, South Carolina area restaurants violated minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” and pay tipped employees below the full federal minimum wage per hour if the employees will make at least minimum wage after keeping their tips.  To legally apply the tip credit, a restaurant must ensure that all tips received by tipped employees are retained by the employees (unless there is a valid tip pooling arrangement). In the present case, the employer required servers to give a percentage of their tips back to them and compelled three servers to work for only tips. The restaurant owners also required workers at some locations to purchase their uniforms, which reduced their earnings below the minimum wage.

The investigation also found that the employer failed to pay cooks, dishwashers and runners for all hours worked, resulting in these employees not earning minimum wage for all hours worked. Furthermore, these workers did not receive overtime pay of time-and-one-half for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Lastly, the owners failed to keep legally mandated time and attendance records.

Judge C. Weston Houck, of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, approved a consent judgment between the department and the owners, who will pay a total of $1,179,045 to 119 employees, which includes $589,523 in back wages and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages for all affected employees who worked at any of the 13 restaurants from Aug. 13, 2011 to Dec. 13, 2014.




T.G.I. Friday’s Lawsuit Claims “Side Work” ≠ Tipped Minimum Wage


A wage theft lawsuit against T.G.I Friday’s restaurants in New Jersey was brought on behalf of servers who allege that the restaurants wrongfully paid them a tipped minimum wage and failed to pay them appropriate overtime compensation.

Attorneys for the workers claim that servers, bussers, runner bartenders, barbacks, and hosts at T.G.I Friday’s restaurants in New Jersey were paid a tipped minimum wage even though they were required to perform non-tip producing duties or “side work” in excess of 20% of their work day work. The side work performed by servers included filling bins with ice, lettuce, tomatoes and condiments; cutting lemons and limes; setting up dishes and glassware; rolling silverware; and sweeping and mopping.

The lawsuit claims that front of the house workers were also required to work “off the clock” and would stay at the restaurant for approximately two hours prior to or after their shifts for “off the clock” work or staff meetings without getting paid.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” and pay waiters, bussers, and bartenders below the federal minimum wage.  The United States Department of Labor regulations provide, however, that a restaurant will not qualify for the “tip credit” for employees that spend more than 20% of their time performing non-tipped work.

The case against T.G.I. Friday’s was filed by the workers’ attorneys in federal court in New Jersey.  The lawsuit seeks back wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.


Iowa Restaurants Sued for Tip Credit Wage Violations

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Servers at two Des Moines, Iowa restaurants, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse and Centro Restaurant, have filed lawsuits against the restaurants alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Iowa wage laws. In the collective action and class action lawsuits, filed in Iowa Federal Court, the servers assert that they were illegally paid a tipped minimum wage rate for time spent performing non-tipped work, such as sorting, polishing, and rolling silverware and cleaning tables, counters, walls, and floors.

Under the FLSA and Iowa wage laws, employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” and pay tipped employees such as waiters and bussers below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. However, employees who spend more than 20% of their time doing non-tipped work must receive the full minimum wage rate for time spent performing those duties. The lawsuits allege that the servers were paid at the Iowa reduced minimum rate of $4.35 for all hours worked even though they spent more than 20% of their working time performing non-tipped duties such as setting-up and cleaning.

This so-called 80/20 rule has been the subject of a previous waiterpay blog regarding Applebee’s.



Kitchen Workers Sue Mr. Chow in New York For Wage Theft

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Mr. Chow, a celebrity hangout serving upscale Chinese cuisine in New York, has been hit with a lawsuit alleging it has violated federal and New York wage payment laws.

According to the lawsuit, the restaurant paid their kitchen workers, who regularly worked between 52 to 58 hours per week, a flat monthly salary with no overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the kitchen workers were required to wait to “punch in” after their actual arrival time, and had to “punch out” before their actual departure. The restaurant also required the kitchen workers to sign wage statements that inaccurately indicated they were being paid on an hourly basis, despite being paid on a flat monthly salary.

The lawsuit seeks payment of unpaid wages, liquidated damages, spread of hours pay, and attorneys’ fees.


Delivery Worker Sues Connecticut Restaurant for Minimum Wage and Overtime

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A delivery worker who worked at Wild Rice, a popular sushi/pan Asian restaurant in Norwalk, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit claiming that he was denied the minimum wage  and overtime pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the wage payment laws of Connecticut.

According to the Complaint, Wei Jian Zhou typically worked approximately 68.5 hours a week and was paid $1,000 a month, regardless of the number of hours he actually worked. Wei was paid $1,000 per month in cash during his first two years of employment; during his last two years he received $1,500 by check but was required to kick back $500 in cash to the restaurant.

Attorneys for Wei are seeking double wages and other wage theft remedies under the FLSA and the worker rights law in Connecticut.



Restaurant Parking Valets Sue for Minimum Wage and Overtime


Parking valets that provided valet parking to restaurants and nightclubs in New York and Connecticut have sued APV Valet Parking Corp. for minimum wage and overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

According to the lawsuit, valets were paid shift pay of $25 per shift, regardless of the hours they worked. On particularly busy nights when the valets worked at strip clubs, the company required valets to work just for tips. Some of the valets logged workweeks of over 100 hours in a week. The wage theft lawsuit claims that because the valets and were paid by shift pay, or no pay at all, the company failed to comply with the legal requirements to pay its workers the minimum wage, and also failed to pay valets overtime compensation at one and a half times the workers’ regular rate of pay for hours they worked in excess of forty per work week.

Attorneys for the valets are seeking unpaid wages, liquidated damages, interests, and attorneys’ fees and costs under the FLSA and the New York Labor Law.

Line Cook Sues Sant Ambroeus and Casa Lever for Overtime

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A cook who worked at Sant Ambroeus and Casa Lever, two high-end New York restaurants owned by the same enterprise, filed a lawsuit claiming that he was denied overtime pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).  The FLSA and NYLL mandate that employers pay non-exempt employees 1½ times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

According to the Complaint, Steven Rivera worked as many as 60 hours a week as a chef at Sant Ambroeus, the high-end mini-chain of restaurants & coffee bars in NYC & Southhampton. The lawsuit alleges that even though Rivera was a non-exempt employee and entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA and NYLL, he was paid the same daily rate regardless of the number of hours he actually worked. At Casa Lever, an upscale Italian restaurant in the landmarked Lever House, Rivera worked 50–53 hours a week as a non-exempt line cook. Rivera was not paid overtime pay there either, receiving the same daily rate regardless of the number of hours he actually worked.

Attorneys for Rivera are seeking payment of unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.


Assistant Managers at Noodles File Lawsuit For Overtime Violations


Assistant managers at Noodles and Company filed a class action lawsuit claiming that they were denied overtime for hours they worked over forty in a workweek. The lawsuit charges that Noodles misclassified the assistant managers as “exempt” from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act in order to deny them overtime wages. Noodles, a nationwide restaurant chain that offers international and American noodle dishes, has almost 500 “fast casual” restaurants throughout the United States.

Under Noodles’ nationwide policy, assistant mangers are uniformly classified as exempt from federal and state overtime provisions and restaurants do not pay the assistant managers any overtime wages. The federal court lawsuit claims that the assistant managers customarily and regularly prepared food, cooked, cashiered, stocked inventory, cleaned, and served as customer service representative. These duties are the same as the duties performed by hourly-paid employees. The complaint also states that assistant managers did not have authority to engage in customary management duties, such as creating or implementing management policies, setting employee wages, or hiring/firing employees. Instead, the assistant managers had to follow the policies and practices Noodles established. The assistant managers seek unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.



Lupo Verde Restaurant in D.C. Sued for Wage Theft

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Former cooks and dishwashers at Lupo Verde, a popular Italian restaurant in Washington D.C., have sued for unpaid overtime pay and other wage and hour violations.

Lupo Verde, recently ranked among the “Top Ten Hottest Italian Restaurants in D.C.” by Zagat and written up in Zagat for having “reliably good food coming from the kitchen” allegedly paid its kitchen laborers at their regular hourly rate for overtime hours.

According to the Complaint, the restaurant issued biweekly paychecks reflecting hours worked except when the workers accrued overtime hours. In those weeks the restaurant intentionally omitted the “hours worked” line from the pay stubs and paid all hours worked at the worker’s regular rate. The Complaint also alleged that the restaurant violated the notice, record-keeping and posting requirements of the District of Columbia Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Attorneys for the workers are seeking unpaid wages in the amount of $87,576.00, liquidated damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and court costs.



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