Through September of 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") has recovered $4.5 million in wages for restaurant employees. During the same period last year, the DOL recovered $14.4 million. Covid-19 has created enormous challenges for the restaurant industry in 2020. Restaurant owners are doing whatever is necessary to continue serving customers and keep their businesses afloat. But some restaurant owners are crossing the line by violating the Fair Labor Standards Act's tip credit provisions.
Last week, the DOL ordered a Tennessee Mexican restaurant to pay $179,878 in back wages to 40 employees. The DOL found that servers had to subsidize the wages of non-tipped workers with their tips and that the restaurant did not distribute tips on to-go and delivery orders. The DOL alleges the restaurant violated minimum wage laws by requiring servers to pay $7 to $10 per shift into a tip pool used to pay hourly wages for non-tipped staff. The restaurant also kept credit card tips from to-go and delivery orders that would usually have gone to hosts. This conduct violates the minimum wages provisions of the FLSA because the tips belong to the restaurant's tipped employees.
If you are a server, bartender, or hostess in the restaurant industry and you believe that your employer is violating wage and hour laws, Gibbons Leis, PLLC provides free, confidential consultations to help employees understand their legal rights.