A Baltimore area restaurant owner has paid $499,258 dollars in back wages and damages to 62 workers after Department of Labor said he bilked employees through a phony tip pool. A 2017 complaint from the U.S. Department of Labor cited “numerous violations” of the Fair Labor Standards Act at Mezcal Mexican Restaurant and Bar with locations in Owings Mills and Lutherville, Maryland.
Attorneys for the Department of Labor claimed that Mezcal owner Carlos Ulloa required workers to put 4% of their credit card tips in an alleged tip pool, but never actually distributed any of the money to employees, instead keeping the money for the business. “All too often, restaurant industry workers fall victim to wage violations,” said an attorney for the Department of Labor. “Tips remain the property of those who rightfully earned them and must never be kept by employers.”
The restaurant also committed other wage theft violations, according to the Department of Labor. Those violations included paying servers regular straight time rates for overtime hours, paying kitchen staff a fixed salary, off the books, without overtime pay regardless of the number of hours they worked, and failing to keep mandatory payroll records, "with many employees paid in cash and not appearing in the employer’s payroll records at all.
Under the law, waitstaff are not be required to share their tips with restaurant employees who do not interact with customers, such as managers and kitchen employees. Tip pools should only include employees who regularly receive tips, such as servers, bartenders, and busboys. Moreover, servers are entitled to overtime at time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a work week.
If you are a waiter or waitress or busser at a restaurant and believe the owner is stealing your tips or not paying you overtime, please contact Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500 to schedule a free consultation.