New York Daily News has reported that Wahlburgers, subject of the popular A&E reality show by the same name, is being sued by former employees for unpaid overtime and tip violations. The attorneys for the former restaurant workers in the case is Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com and Mitchell Schley.
Five former servers at the restaurants in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York City are suing the store’s food services provider for gender and age discrimination-based termination. Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause to believe that plaintiffs were unfairly terminated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) based on their sex and age.
Fifth Dining, LLC took over food and beverage operations at Saks in October 2012. According to the lawsuit, they terminated twenty employees within the first year they ran the food services at Saks, and terminated another twenty workers soon thereafter. The lawsuit alleges that a disproportionate number of the employees fired were competent, long-service females over the age of 40 and they were all replaced with young, attractive men. New management, the complaint contends, was looking for a “new, younger face” for the Saks restaurants and the current servers were “not attractive enough” and were getting “too old.”
The workers are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and liquidated damages pursuant to Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, New York State Law, and New York City Law.
A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found that Junior’s Supper Club, an Oklahoma City fine dining institution open since 1973, violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The Department of Labor (DOL) investigation revealed that Junior’s failed to combine hours worked by employees who performed more than one job duty at the restaurant (i.e., server and busser) during a workweek. As a result, the restaurant failed to recognize when these employees worked more than 40 hours in a week and did not pay them overtime as required by the FLSA. The DOL investigation also found that Junior’s illegally deducted time from worker’s pay when no work was available (i.e., no customers in restaurant), although employees were ready to serve. This resulted in minimum wage and overtime violations for the unpaid time. In addition, the DOL investigation disclosed that Junior’s did not keep accurate records of the total number of hours employees worked in a week, a recordkeeping violation under the FLSA.
In settlement of the wage theft claims, Junior’s paid a total of $52,487 to nine workers and agreed to keep accurate records and comply with all provisions of the FLSA in the future.
“Restaurant workers are among the most vulnerable workers we see in Oklahoma,” said a DOL representative. “If an employer requires workers to be ready to serve customers whenever they walk in, the employer must pay workers for the times when there may be no customers in the facility. These workers depend on every penny they rightfully earn; cheating them out of overtime has a tremendous impact on them and their families. The resolution of this case signals the division’s commitment to protecting restaurant workers, and leveling the playing field for employers who pay their workers legally.”
Les Halles, the French Bistro which was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential, has been ordered by a Manhattan Federal Court to pay their waitstaff for wage theft violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. The Court issued a default judgment for the waitstaff’s minimum wage and tip misappropriation claims. According to the Order, the former waitstaff at Les Halles will also be awarded damages for misappropriation of tips.
Les Halles closed it Park Avenue South doors in March after being open for nearly 25 years. The restaurant, owned by Philipe Lajaunie, had been in eviction proceedings with the building’s landlord since December 2015. According to the Order, the Court decided that in light of Les Halles’ deteriorating financial condition it did not want to run the risk that the former waitstaff would be left with a “toothless future judgement”.
A Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee in Westchester County, NY will pay $150,000 to former workers to settle a sex harassment lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Hillcrest Marshall, a franchise which owns multiple Dunkin’ Donuts locations. The lawsuit claimed that the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee violated federal law by subjecting female employees, some of whom were in their teens at the time, to sexual harassment by a store manager at one of its stores. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, among other things, the store manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker who was 20 years old at the time, and pressured her to have sex. After she rejected him, the manager regularly hit, cursed and yelled at her. When she contacted the police, she was terminated in retaliation for resisting his advances.
Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Hillcrest Marshall ceased to employ the manager and agreed not to rehire him. In addition to payment of $150,000 to the harassment victims, Hillcrest Marshall will train the managers at all of their stores of their obligations under the law; institute strong anti-discrimination and complaint policies for all of its employees; and designate a senior manager to receive all complaints of discrimination and harassment.
The Department of Labor announced it signed a cooperative agreement with Subway, the world’s largest franchisor. The agreement boosts Subway’s compliance with labor laws, helping ensure that workers get paid the wages they are legally entitled.
The agreement with Subway breaks new ground in how the Department of Labor can work with the regulated community — not only with employers, but with franchisors, suppliers, retailers and others — to channel their influence to ensure that all employers along a supply chain or otherwise linked in commerce play by the rules. The agreement builds upon the Wage and Hour division’s ongoing work to provide technical assistance and training to Subway’s franchisees. It also provides an avenue for information-sharing where the Department of Labor will provide data about concluded investigations with Subway, and shares Subway’s data with the Department of Labor, generating creative problem solving and sparking new ideas to promote compliance.
When necessary, the franchisor will remind franchisees of the Wage and Hour Division’s authority to investigate their establishments and to examine records. The agreement also specifies that Subway may exercise its business judgment in dealing with a franchisee’s status within the brand, based upon any history of Fair Labor Standards Act violations. The agreement provides a model for exacting compliance, at scale, in an industry that has experienced problems.
The Department of Labor calls its collaboration with Subway a recipe for success, demonstrating how government and industry can work together to protect vulnerable workers and ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
On the 80/20 issue, the Court found that although some waiters and waitresses tasks may be performed by untipped staff at other restaurants, it does not make them unrelated to their server duties. The Court noted that “the possibility that a few minutes a day were devoted to keeping the restaurant tidy does not require the restaurants to pay the normal minimum wage rather than the tip credit rate for those minutes.”
On the tip credit issue, the Court analyzed the requirements of §203(m) and explained “workers are entitled to knowledge about the tip credit program but not to a comprehensive explanation.” The Seventh Circuit’s take on the requirements for notification of the tip credit was threefold: “Three things are apt to matter most to employees at establishments such as these defendants: (a) in anticipation of tips the employer will pay less than the minimum wage; (b) how much the cash wage will fall short of the current minimum wage; and (c) if tips plus the cash wage do not at least match the current minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. We think that person told these things has been adequately “informed” for the purpose of the statute, during the time before the Department of Labor elaborated by regulation.”
Twin Peaks Restaurant Group in Florida, a Hooters equivalent with a mountain-lodge theme, is being sued by a job applicant for gender discrimination. The job applicant, Ortiz, was denied employment as a server because he was a man. Twin Peaks exclusively offers server positions for women, and include in their job posting that men need not apply. While other positions open at the Restaurant accept both male and female applicants, Ortiz applied for the server position strictly reserved for women who fit the restaurant’s “Peak Girl” qualifications, which the lawsuit alleges is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
According to the lawsuit, Ortiz filled out an employment application and upon completion asked to speak to the manager. The manager advised Ortiz that although they were currently hiring servers, the positions are reserved strictly for females and that Ortiz did not qualify for the job because he was a male. Attorneys for Ortiz state in the lawsuit that Ortiz is not attempting to deprive Twin Peaks from employing “Twin Peaks Girls”, but ensuring that males and females have the same opportunity to serve food and earn income therefrom. The attorneys for Ortiz further argue that even though the restaurant titles servers “Twin Peak Girls”, a male or a female can perform the function of serving food and drink, therefore they cannot claim there is a bona-fide occupational qualification.
Attorneys for Ortiz are seeking to recover compensatory damages, emotional damages, punitive damages, back pay, front pay, reinstatement, and attorney’s fees.
Rosa Mexicano, the upscale Mexican restaurant chain, is being sued by its servers for stealing wages. Attorneys for the workers allege Rosa Mexicano failed to pay waitstaff minimum wage and overtime wages and misappropriated tips in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and New York Labor Law (“NYLL”).
According to the wage theft lawsuit, Rosa Mexicano claimed an invalid tip credit and improperly paid their waitstaff at a tipped minimum wage instead of the full minimum wage. The waitstaff claims in their lawsuit that Rosa Mexicano did not inform them they would be paid at tipped minimum wage and misappropriated their tips, violating the FLSA and NYLL. Tips were shared with “floaters”, who conducted miscellaneous tasks around the restaurant without ever having customer contact. According to the lawsuit, these “floaters” were not entitled to sharing in a tip pool, invalidating Rosa Mexicano’s tip credit.
The lawsuit claims that Rosa Mexicano did not pay waitstaff for hours worked over forty per week. Some former servers claim to work up to 50 hours per week without receiving overtime pay. The lawsuit also alleges that waitresses, waiters, bussers, and bartenders did not receive “call-in pay” required under NYLL, when they reported for work only to be sent home before being able to work three hours. One of the former workers claims this happened on 146 shifts.
Attorneys for the waitstaff seek to recover unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime wages, unpaid “call-in pay”, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees. Rosa Mexicano has locations in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Minneapolis. The workers are represented by Fitapelli & Schaffer, a New York law firm.
Twelve restaurant workers employed by Scales 925, a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia owned by Clifford Harris – the famous rapper formerly known as T.I. – are suing the Atlanta restaurant for minimum and overtime wage violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The wage theft lawsuit alleges that the waitstaff would routinely work more than 40 hours per week without being paid overtime and spent more than twenty percent of their time performing non-tipped tasks.
According to the lawsuit, waiters and waitresses were required to work off the clock for three hours before they were allowed to go home. The waitstaff complained to Scales 925 about not being paid overtime, but Scales 925 management ignored their complaints. In addition, the lawsuit claims the restaurant unlawfully deducted money from server’s paychecks for broken glasses, even if no glasses were broken. The restaurant also deducted money from servers’ paychecks supposedly to pay for busboys, which the busboys claimed they never received.