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.
Workers at Peter Luger’s, recognized by Zagat’s as the best steakhouse in New York, has agreed to a $250,000 settlement to resolve claims made against the Long Island location of the steakhouse for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York labor law violations, according to papers filed with the court.
Restaurant employees initially filed a complaint against the steakhouse in March 2013, alleging that the restaurant failed to pay them for all hours worked, specifically that the restaurant violated its workers’ rights by failing to pay proper overtime and minimum wages and spread-of-hours pay, and by maintaining an illegal tip pool. The Complaint alleged that the management deducted $20.00 from the tip pool every day, which would then be given to the kitchen staff at the end of the year.
The workers have asked the Judge Wexler to approve the settlement and certify the proposed class, which would cover 62 employees who worked at the restaurant’s Great Neck location as servers, waitstaff, waiters, and bartenders.
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.
Chickie’s & Pete’s, widely recognized as the best sports bar in America, has reached a proposed settlement regarding the company’s pay practices for its tipped employees. The restaurants will pay approximately $6.6 million to more than 1,100 employees who worked at 12 different locations throughout the region over the last three years, in accordance with a settlement with the Department of Labor. At the same time, the restaurants reached a $1.68 million settlement with approximately 90 current and former employees who filed federal lawsuits that included many of the same allegations raised in the Department of Labor matter. The settlement is an excellent outcome for Chickie’s & Pete’s employees and for the company, and this recovery represents Pete Ciarrocchi’s good faith efforts to make his workers whole. Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com, was the lead attorney for the waiters, waitresses, and bartenders in the federal lawsuit.
Chickie’s & Pete’s is by no means the first restaurant company to face scrutiny of its tipped employee pay practices. Many restaurant operators across the country have faced similar issues relating to tip pools and tip credits. In fact, hundreds of restaurant operators across the country – ranging from mom-and-pop operations to industry giants like Mario Batali (who in 2012 reached a $5.25 million settlement), Bobby Flay, Outback Steakhouse, and Darden Restaurants (owners of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster) – have been subjected to allegations challenging their compliance with federal and state law rules regarding “tip pools” and “tip credits.”
Delivery workers who were cheated out of their minimum wage and overtime pay by a Domino’s pizza shop in Manhattan will share in a $1.28 million settlement. Sixty-one workers will receive back pay and damages, each receiving awards between $400 and $61,300 depending on how long they worked at Domino’s.
The lawsuit against the Domino’s pizza shop, located at East 89th Street, claimed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage law. Attorneys for the delivery workers alleged that the delivery workers were paid on a “tipped minimum wage” even though they did untipped work such as cleaning ovens and floors or distributing flyers. The lawsuit recovered minimum wage, overtime, and liquidated damages for the workers.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, rated as one of the best steakhouses in New York City, will pay its current and former waitstaff $446,500 to resolve claims that the restaurant committed wage violations and engaged in improper pay practices.
United States District Court Judge Analisa Torres issued a judgment approving the settlement agreement between Wolfgang’s Steakhouse and current and former tipped employees of the restaurants which reimburses the workers for violations of waiters rights under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law. The lawsuit, which was brought as a class action on behalf of servers, bartenders, bar-backs, and coat check employees, alleged that the restaurant failed to properly pay its workers for all hours worked, overtime, spread of hours pay, failed to reimburse their workers for the cost of their uniforms, and misappropriated tips.
The settlement with the restaurant covers 130 servers who worked at Wolfgang’s Park Avenue and Tribeca locations between February 9, 2009 and December 16, 2013 and provides payment for the restaurant workers’ attorneys.