Restaurant Workers Recover Back Wages for Violations of Overtime Laws
Courts across the country are cracking down on restaurants that blatantly violate the Fair Labor Standards Act by not providing service and non-service personnel with fair pay. Pineapple Grill in Hawaii is only one of the recent restaurants that has been ordered to pay a substantial amount of money after an investigation revealed that employees were receiving less than minimum wage and wait staff were forced to share their tips with people not entitled to a portion of them. However, it is certainly not the first or the last restaurant guilty of such illegal practices. In fact, over the past several years, New York has become a hot bed of overtime cases against all types of restaurants – with multi-millions of dollars in settlements paid out each year.
Common Types of Overtime Law Violations by Restaurants
Restaurants are often found guilty of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act in the following ways:
Cooks and kitchen workers are notorious for working long, hard hours. Some restaurants try to shirk their legal duty by paying workers a fixed salary that does not provide them with adequate compensation and cheats them out of overtime pay. Recently, in Ann Arbor Michigan, seven restaurants were forced to pay nearly $150,000 to more than 100 employees for their wage and hour violations. While some of the restaurants blamed clerical or computer information as the reason, investigators found serious violations in multiple restaurants. They found some non-exempt employees were paid salaries and no overtime when they routinely worked in excess of 60 hours a week. They also found that poor record-keeping and misclassification of employees caused some employees to earn less than minimum wage.
Tip Pool Violations
The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes clear guidelines regarding the rules for pooling of tips, but employers continue to violate its mandate. An employer can require tipped personnel such as waiters, waitresses, counter personnel, bussers and bartenders to combine their tips into a shared tip pool. However, this tip pool cannot include individuals who do not customarily receive tips, such as dishwashers, chefs or owners/managers. Including such workers can invalidate the entire tip pooling arrangement.
The labor laws do not specify a specific monetary amount or percentage that employees must contribute to tip pools. However, the employer is required to inform the employees of any such arrangement and is prohibited from retaining the tips for his or her own purpose.
Another common FLSA violation of overtime pay laws in restaurants is making illegal deductions to employees’ pay. Many restaurants are run by small business owners, so when they lose money due to broken plates or customers skipping out on the bill, they may try to recoup these losses by taking them out of the employees’ checks. However, this type of behavior is often illegal.
In the Ann Arbor restaurants, investigators also found that restaurants were making deductions from employees’ paychecks for uniforms, breakages and shortages in the cash register. These actions caused the employees to be earning less than minimum wage.
At The Lore Law Firm, we represent employees across the nation who work hard but are not being properly compensated for their work. We have successfully represented employees in all kinds of different jobs in overtime wage and hour claims when employers violated the rules.
If you work in the restaurant industry and have questions about whether or not you have been properly paid for overtime, we can help answer your questions. Call 1-866-559-0400 or use our evaluation form for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your situation.