Waiter/Waitress

Kitchen Workers Accuse Serafina Restaurant of Wage Theft

serafina round logo

Serafina, an Italian restaurant chain operating eleven restaurants in New York State, allegedly failed to pay kitchen workers overtime pay for all weekly hours worked over forty, spread-of-hours pay, and other wages.  The kitchen workers, including cooks, non-executive chefs, sous-chefs, porters, and dishwashers, claim that Serafina required them to regularly work more than forty hours each week but did not pay them time-and-a-half for all of their hours over forty.  The kitchen workers say that the restaurant paid some workers a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours they actually worked.  For example, one sous-chef was paid $1,100 per week for working up to eighty-four hours a week.

The lawsuit claims that while Serafina did pay some kitchen workers hourly wages, the restaurant shaved their overtime hours.  For example, a cook alleges that Serafina only paid him for forty-eight hours of work each week, despite actually working sixty hours a week.  The workers claim that Serafina paid all kitchen workers for fewer overtime hours than they actually worked each week due to time shaving.  The workers further allege they were never given wage notices required under the New York Labor Law and that their paystubs contained inaccurate information concerning their hours worked.

Serafina previously agreed to settle another wage theft lawsuit with former servers, runners, bartenders, bussers, and baristas for $1.275 million.

Opening A Restaurant in New York: Legal Issue Boot Camp

New York City Bar Association Logo

The New York City Bar Association will hold the CLE program “Opening A Restaurant in New York: Legal Issue Boot Camp” on March 24. The program will focus on the corporate, real estate, liquor license, and labor/employment issues involved in opening a restaurant in New York City. Speakers on the panel include Jack Gordon, partner at Kent, Beatty & Gordon LLP; Carolyn Richmond, partner at Fox Rothschild LLP; Sonal Shah, General Counsel of Ark Restaurant Group; Alex Victor, partner at Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron LLP; and Larry A. Welch, Associate at Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP.  Lou Pechman will be chairing the event. For more information on the program please visit the event page.

Joe Allen, Broadway Restaurant Hit with Class Action Wage Theft Lawsuit

Joe Allen Restaurante Front

A class action lawsuit claims that Joe Allen Restaurant (“Joe Allen”), a popular Broadway pre-show eatery located in Manhattan, failed to pay its restaurant workers minimum and overtime wages. The employee who brought the lawsuit alleges that Joe Allen did not keep track of the hours its employees actually worked, instead paying them only for their scheduled hours. The same employee alleges Joe Allen paid workers the tipped minimum wage without giving employees proper notice of the tip credit, and also forced tipped workers to share their tips with employees not entitled to tips, such as a porter.

The named employee, who worked as a server and bartender, claims that Joe Allen sometimes required him to arrive at 10:30 a.m. for lunch shifts, complete his non-tipped work, and then purposefully sent him home at about 12:00 p.m. before his scheduled lunch shift started, without paying him a penny. He also adds that he often “picked up” dinner shifts from other employees, which brought his weekly hours over 40, but never received overtime while employed at Joe Allen.

Maine Fish Market to Pay $750,000 in Back Wage to Employees

Maine Fish Market Restaurante Logo

Maine Fish Market, a popular seafood restaurant in East Windsor, Connecticut, paid $750,000 in back wages to approximately 70 employees for unpaid wages and tip theft violations. The class action lawsuit alleged that Maine Fish Market neglected to pay the federal minimum wage to its servers and bartenders and failed to pay overtime wages to the restaurant’s kitchen workers. In addition, servers claim they were unlawfully required to pay for breakages, customer walkouts, and uniforms. The restaurant also took ten to fifteen percent of each servers’ tips on a daily basis and allegedly used this money to pay other employees’ wages. As per the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act, employers are not entitled to any of the tips earned by servers.

The employees were represented by Louis Pechman and Laura Rodriguez of Pechman Law Group PLLC, as well as by William Madsen of Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC.

Bistro owners mocked workers and stiffed them on pay according to lawsuit

New York Post Logo

The New York Post has reported that Le Rivage, an iconic French restaurant in midtown Manhattan, is being sued by its servers for age discrimination and minimum wage, overtime, and tip violations.  The servers in this case are represented by Laura Rodriguez and Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com.

Golden Corral Sued By Assistant Managers For Overtime Pay

Golden Corral logo

Golden Corral restaurants throughout the United States misclassified “Kitchen Associate Managers,” and “Hospitality Managers,” as employees exempt from overtime, failing to pay them any overtime wages for hours they worked over forty in a given workweek. According to the restaurant workers, Golden Corral refused to pay them overtime in spite of the fact that they spent the majority of their time performing the same duties that non-exempt restaurant employees performed, including cooking and preparing food, taking out trash, washing dishware and glassware, refilling food on the buffet line, unpacking products and supplies, cleaning the restaurant, and serving customers. The lawsuit claims that Golden Corral applied the same compensation and employment policies to Assistant Managers at 94 restaurants across the country.

The workers also claim that Golden Corral willfully misclassified them as exempt workers ineligible for overtime pay, and was aware that Associate Managers across the country worked more than 40 hours a week without overtime compensation. The lawsuit alleges that Golden Corral failed to record all of the time that its employees worked and purposefully did not require workers to clock in or out or otherwise record their time in any way. Further, the Assistant Managers’ work hours were not recorded on their paystubs.

Reichenbach Hall Sued for Wage Violations

Reichenbach Hall Logo

A wage theft lawsuit has been filed against Reichenbach Hall, a German beer hall located in midtown Manhattan. The lawsuit charges that the restaurant cheated its waiters and waitresses out of minimum wage and overtime pay. The servers claim that Reichenbach Hall charged them for customer walkouts and for uniforms. The waitstaff also allege that Reichenbach Hall paid them the “tipped minimum wage” without giving prior notice and forced them to share their tips with managers and back of house employees as part of an unlawful tip pool.

 

 

Restaurant Workers Get 2017 Pay Hike

back of house cooks

On December 31, 2016, restaurant workers throughout New York State will begin to see changes in the payment structure of their wages.
Back of the House Workers

 

Back of the house workers (cooks, dishwashers, stockers, and others without direct customer contact) will receive an increase from the current minimum wage rate of $9.00/hour beginning December 31, 2016, according to the following specifications:

New York City – Large Employers (with 11 or more employees): $11.00
New York City – Small Employers (with 10 or fewer employees): $10.50
Long Island & Westchester: $10.00
Remainder of New York State: $9.70

 

Front of the House Workers

 

New York State law allows employers in all industries, except building service and fast food, to satisfy payment of the minimum wage by combining a “cash wage” paid by the employer with a credit or allowance for tips that the employee receives from customers. For example, employers in the Hospitality Industry could satisfy the 2016 minimum wage of $9.00 by combining a cash wage of at least $7.50 with a tip allowance of no less than $1.50 per hour. Employers need only pay a cash wage of $7.50/hour to workers, so long as the employees receive at least $1.50/hour from customers in tips.

 

Beginning on December 31, 2016, tipped front of the house restaurant workers (servers, bussers, bartenders, hosts, hostesses, and others with direct customer contact) will still be required to receive the same 2016 minimum hourly wage rate of $7.50/hour from their employers. However, as of December 31, 2016, tipped restaurant workers must receive at least the following amount in tips per hour in order for employers to use the tip credit:

 

New York City – Large Employers (with 11 or more employees): $3.50
New York City – Small Employers (with 10 or fewer employees): $3.00
Long Island & Westchester: $2.50
Remainder of New York State: $2.20

 


Fast Food Workers

 

Additionally, restaurant workers in the fast food industry will see an increase in hourly wage rates. Employees who qualify for this increase include any person working at a fast food establishment whose job duties include at least one of the following: customer service, cooking, food or drink preparation, delivery, security, stocking supplies or equipment, cleaning, or routine maintenance.

 

On December 31, 2016, the minimum hourly wage rates for all fast food workers will increase according to the following specifications:

 

New York City: $12.00
Rest of the State: $10.75

 

For more information about your rights as a restaurant worker, take a look at our Top 10 Restaurant Pay Violations.

Brooklyn Diners Sued for Wage Theft

Vegas Diner

Former waitstaff at the Del Rio Diner and Vegas Diner claim in a lawsuit that the diners failed to pay them minimum wage, overtime pay and spread-of-hours pay. According to the lawsuit, waitstaff at both diners, including servers, line cooks, dishwashers, food preparers and hostesses, worked anywhere in a range of approximately 48 to 66 hours per week without receiving the full minimum wage or any overtime compensation. Additionally, the waitstaff claim the diners failed to pay any spread-of-hours premiums despite some employees working up to twenty hours in a single workday.

The waitstaff allege that the diners paid them either a fixed weekly salary or an hourly rate, both of which resulted in rates under the minimum wage. For example, one of the waitstaff who worked as both a busser and server at the Del Rio Diner had his pay rate increase from $1.00 per hour to $2.50 per hour after working more than 20 years there. A server/hostess claims she was required to report that she made $5.00 per hour in tips regardless of how much she actually made so that after tax withholdings, her net wage payments were approximately $2.00 per hour.

Long Island Restaurant to Pay $285K to Two Dozen Employees Denied Minimum Wage, Overtime Pay

Akbar Restaurant Logo

A Garden City restaurant and catering hall will pay a total of $285,800 in back wages and liquidated damages to 24 underpaid employees to resolve violations of the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The restaurant will also pay $24,200 in civil money penalties to the U.S. Department of Labor and take corrective action to prevent future violations as part of a consent judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Akbar Restaurant & Caterer on Long Island willfully failed to pay employees properly and maintain accurate records of wages and work hours between July 2012 and March 2016. Specific violations included:

  • Paying kitchen workers, dishwashers, and banquet workers who sometimes worked as many as 60 hours per week a fixed weekly amount regardless of the numbers of hours they actually worked, denying them overtime when they worked more than 40 hours.
  • Paying servers who sometimes worked as many as 70 hours per week less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour by failing to comply with the FLSA’s tip credit requirements.
  • Keeping multiple, incomplete, and inaccurate payroll records and providing investigators with falsified records.
  • Retaliating against an employee who refused to sign a false affidavit about defendants’ pay practices.

After withholding an employee’s paycheck because he refused to sign a false affidavit, the department obtained a temporary restraining order in July 2016, which enjoined the defendants from interrogating current and former employees about their communications with the government, and withholding wages from or terminating or threatening employees they believed cooperated with the division’s investigation. The court also ordered that the defendants permit department representatives to read a statement to the restaurant’s employees about their right to participate in the investigation.

“These employees work long hours at demanding jobs and deserve to be paid the wages they have rightfully earned. They also have the right to be free of intimidation by their employer,” said Irv Miljoner, director of the division’s Long Island District Office. “Employees have a legal right to participate in and cooperate with an investigation without fear of retaliation.”

“The Long Island restaurant industry should take note of the resolution of this case and the strong remedies obtained. Cheating workers of their wages not only harms them, it also puts at a competitive disadvantage those employers who obey the law in the first place. Intimidating or retaliating against employees is not only unacceptable behavior, it is illegal behavior. The department will not hesitate to pursue and secure appropriate and effective corrective action,” said Jeffrey S. Rogoff, the regional solicitor of labor in New York.

In addition to the payment of the back wages and liquidated damage, the consent judgment requires the defendants to use an automated timekeeping system for all of their employees, and post and provide employees with notices informing them of the resolution of the lawsuit and their FLSA rights in English, Spanish and Hindi.

 

 

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