Louis Pechman, the founder of Waiterpay, was a featured guest on BK Live’s June 2, 2014 segment on Tipped Wages. The segment focused on pay issues in New York City restaurants, including concerns about the increase in lawsuits for illegal pay practices. Among the topics discussed were the differences between minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, the complicated set of laws involving the tip credit, spread of hours, and other worker rights issues.
Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse and its owner, Food Network Celebrity Willie Degel, will pay $900,000 to settle a wage theft lawsuit filed against its restaurants located in Bayside, Queens and Midtown, New York City. Ironically, Degel was featured on Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout, a show which followed Degel as he visited restaurants across the country with hidden cameras to capture their food service problems and attempted to fix them.
On May 22, 2014, Judge Loretta Preska, Chief United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York, approved a $900,000 settlement between the restaurants and its workers, who alleged that their worker rights were violated by the restaurant. Approximately 239 restaurant workers who worked between September 2002 and September 2008 at the New York City and Queens restaurants are expected to benefit from the settlement.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2008 by captains, waiters, runners, bussers, and bartenders, alleged that the restaurants failed to pay them at the legally required minimum wage, routinely shaved their hours when they worked over 40 hours and refused to pay them overtime wages for hours worked over 40, misappropriated gratuities belonging to the waitstaff, failed to pay spread of hours pay when the employees’ workdays exceeded ten hours, and refused to pay for employee uniforms or laundering of such uniforms.
TGI Friday’s was hit with a lawsuit by its servers for violations of state and federal wage payment laws. According to the lawyers for the workers, which include current and former servers, bussers, runners, bartenders, barbacks, hosts, and other tipped workers, the restaurant chain faces a national class action lawsuit as a result of the alleged violations of workers’ rights.
The Complaint, which was filed in federal court by four former TGI Friday’s workers from the New York metro area, alleges that the restaurant required tipped workers to arrive at work before their scheduled start time and to stay at work after the restaurant closed without receiving the minimum wages and overtime to which they were entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).
In addition, the workers allege that the restaurant shaved hours from employee time records and allowed employees to work off-the-clock to perform side work such as cleaning the restaurant, preparing food in bulk for customers, cutting produce, refilling condiments, and stocking and replenishing the bar and service areas.
The lawsuit seeks to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, spread-of-hours pay, misappropriated tips, uniform-related expenses, unlawful deductions, and other wages for current and former workers at TGI Friday’s restaurants throughout the nation owned and/or operated by Carrollton, Texas-based Carlson Restaurants Inc., Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., and TGI Friday’s Inc. nationwide.
Oheka Castle, a catering facility for weddings and lavish events in Huntington, Long Island, has been hit with a wage theft class action by a former server and bartender.
According to the federal court Complaint filed by the attorneys for the workers, the catering facility (which was once the second largest residence in the United States) developed a fraudulent timekeeping scheme in order to avoid the payment of overtime premiums to their waitstaff. When workers worked more than forty hours in a single workweek, they were required to carry over their hours to subsequent weeks, so that company records would not reflect that they worked more than forty hours in a given workweek. In addition, the catering facility regularly required workers whose hours approached forty hours in a workweek to clock out of the company’s biometric timekeeping system and continue working.
Attorneys for the workers allege that the catering hall misappropriated tips belonging to servers and bartenders. The Complaint alleges that owner Gary Melius personally confiscated cash tips left by patrons for other service staff. Moreover, Oheka charges patrons of their restaurant and catering services, a “service charge” of up to 22% which is added to the bill, leading patrons to believe that the service charges would be paid to the service staff. According to the lawsuit, however, Oheka violated the New York Labor Law because it did not remit any of those service charges to the service staff.
A $2.856 million dollar settlement between ten TGI Friday’s restaurants in New York owned by the Riese Organization, and its waitstaff, has been approved by a New York federal court judge.
The class action lawsuit, which was filed by the workers in 2012, alleged that TGI Friday’s failed to properly pay its tipped workers, including its servers, bussers, runners, bartenders, and barbacks. In particular, the restaurant workers alleged that the restaurants did not pay their employees minimum wage or proper overtime compensation, failed to pay spread-of-hours pay or call-in pay, made unlawful deductions, encouraged workers to work “off the clock” when performing side-work, and engaged in other violations of the restaurant workers’ rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.
This settlement, which was approved by Judge Richard Sullivan on March 7, 2014, will provide back pay and damages for waiters, waitresses, and other waitstaff who worked between November 20, 2006 through June 30, 2013 at the TGI Friday’s restaurants in Manhattan. Approximately 2,600 employees are covered by the settlement.
McDonald’s was hit with seven lawsuits by workers in California, Michigan, and New York, who claimed that the company and some franchise owners failed to pay the employees for all hours worked, failed to pay them overtime, shaved their hours from their time cards, and ordered them to work “off the clock.”
In California, lawsuits were filed against area restaurants, including one filed against 100 McDonald’s owned and operated by the company itself. In Michigan, attorneys for the workers allege that fast food restaurants told their employees to show up for work, but only paid them after having them wait an hour or two for more customers to arrive. The New York lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s failed to reimburse its staff for the laundering and maintenance of their uniforms, or the time spent doing so, even though the restaurant provided them with only one uniform and required a clean uniform to be worn each day. Because of these and other worker rights violations, the lawyers for the restaurant workers are seeking reimbursement for unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and other relief.
These lawsuits come on the heels of several strikes organized in New York to pressure McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants to increase the minimum wage.
Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a restaurant worker rights advocacy group has been accused of misconduct. In an opinion piece published in the New York Post, Mike Paranzing accused the ROC of being a labor union front that doesn’t practice what it preaches. Acccording to Paranzing, ROC exploited its own workers and cheated its employees at the restaurant Colors, and is guilty of the same labor abuses and health violations that it has leveled against other restaurants.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which was signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 25, 1938 outlawed “oppressive child labor,” imposed a federal minimum wage of 25 cents per hour, and required overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week. But the America we live in is far different from that which existed 75 years ago and both employee advocates and company executives have raised serious questions as to how well the FLSA is currently working. Read the full article written Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com, on The Huffington Post.
Servers at the Rainforest Café have filed a lawsuit against the restaurant alleging that its tip out policy unlawfully requires its waitstaff to share tips with non-service employees.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Massachusetts Superior Court by two waitresses, alleges that the Burlington, Massachusetts wild animal themed restaurant required them to give a portion of their tips to hosts and hostesses to supplement the wages of these non-waitstaff workers. The workers also allege that the restaurant retained a portion of their gratuities for bussers, hostesses, and bartenders even when no bussers, hostesses, or bartenders were working during their shifts.
Lawyers for the waitresses claim that because of the illegal tip share policy, along with the improper deductions from the waitstaff’s pay, the company failed to pay its workers the lawful minimum wage as required by Massachusetts wage and hour law.