A waitress at a Steak ’n Shake Restaurant in St. Mary, Florida filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging minimum wage violations at Steak ‘N Shake Restaurants throughout Florida.
The lawsuit alleges that Steak ‘n Shake restaurants in Florida paid its waiters and waitresses a reduced tipped minimum wage rate, but did not satisfy the requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by which they could take the “tip credit.” Attorneys for the servers claim that the restaurant should not have paid the workers the federal tipped minimum wage because the restaurant required that servers perform substantial non-tipped “side work,” that equaled more than twenty percent of their time at work. That “side work” included cleaning the front of the house, “opening” and “closing” duties, trash removal, and table setup.
Under the FLSA, employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” and pay waiters, bussers, and bartenders below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (note that in New York the minimum wage is $8.75 per hour). However, the United States Department of Labor notes in its Fact Sheet on Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, that “where a tipped employee spends a substantial amount of time (in excess of 20 percent in the workweek) performing related duties, no tip credit may be taken for the time spent in such duties.”
The case against Steak ‘n Shake Restaurant seeks back wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.