Attention restaurant workers: Restaurants may be stealing your wages. It is called “wage theft.” Famous, high-end restaurants do it. Huge restaurant chains do it. And small family-owned restaurants do it. The federal Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in 2016 prosecuted 4,600 cases and recovered almost $40 million in back wages for 45,000 restaurant employees. Imagine how many continue to get away with it.

 

How Do Restaurants Steal Your Unpaid Wages?

And remember this is your money. By federal law, every penny of your tips belongs to you. By federal law, restaurants must pay you a minimum wage which may include your tips. Based on a review of many cases, here are frequent ways your employer may take your money.

  • By not paying you all your overtime
  • By not paying you minimum wage
  • By not providing paid rest and meal breaks
  • By not paying you for meal and rest breaks you do not take
  • By not keep accurate time records
  • By not reimbursing for business expenses
  • By not promptly paying earned wages upon termination
  • By illegally pooling tips
  • By not paying you for side work

And here are some small and sleazy examples of wage theft:

  • By keeping gratuities left by customers
  • By asking employees to volunteer extra hours worked for the employer.
  • By not paying the time necessary to clean uniforms
  • Taking a percentage of tips

I am a Waiter or part of a Restaurant Staff. What Can I Do to Not Be a Victim of Wage Theft?

 Shame on them for taking advantage of their employees. Shame on if you do not protect yourself from wage theft. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you know your rights under federal law as a restaurant employee and as a tipped employee. In addition, many states have laws regulating the pay of restaurant employees.
  • Keep excellent records of when you clock in and out
  • Document all work you do for the employer before or after you clock in or out
  • Make sure your paycheck matches the number of hours you worked.
  • Make sure you are paid overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week
  • Make sure you keep all your tips
  • Make sure you are not sharing tips with non-tipped employees
  • Make sure your employer or manager does not get a share of your tips
  • Keep track of time spent maintaining your uniform
  • Make sure that your employer is not deducting its business costs from your check
  • If you believe your employer is stealing from you, file a complaint with the Department of Labor or
  • If you believe your employer is stealing from you, contact an experienced restaurant worker law attorney.

“We see far too many violations like these in the restaurant industry, where low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable,” said former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Louis Perez.

Overtime Pay Calculator – Click here to find out how much you could be owed

A List of Successful and Pending Lawsuits for Restaurant Workers’ Unpaid Wage Claims

This list includes available lawsuits in selected states brought by restaurant workers against their employers for unpaid wages.

ARKANSAS

Arkansas Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

ALABAMA

Alabama Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2015, the Original Oyster House paid $770,000 to past and current servers who claimed unpaid wages lost because of an invalid tip pool and unpaid side work.

Recent pending lawsuit

Separate lawsuits filed by servers against Butch Cassidy’s, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Mikee’s Seafood, Lambert’s Café, and The Shrimp Basket alleging unpaid wages based on an invalid tip pool that included employees who normally did not receive tips and on unpaid minimum wage for side work that took more than 20% of a shift.

ARIZONA

Arizona Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

A federal court ordered Frederico’s Mexican Restaurant to pay employees $220,000 in back overtime wages after a Department of Labor investigation.

No recent pending lawsuit

CALIFORNIA

California Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

Dave & Busters settled in a class action lawsuit by 2,350 employees alleging loss of overtime pay, failure to pay minimum wage, and denial of rest breaks among other FLSA violations for $2.1 million.

Tacolicious settled for $900,000 in a 2017 lawsuit brought by employees who alleged that did not receive mandated rest and meal breaks.

The Department of Labor in 2017 ordered Dorantes Inc., to pay $275,000 in back wages and fines for paying restaurant workers less than minimum wage, failing to pay overtime and, failing to provide breaks.

In 2016 McDonald’s agreed to settle for $3.75 million a claim by workers of one of its franchisees which alleged unpaid overtime, failure to keep records, and failure to reimburse for time spend cleaning uniforms

Recent pending lawsuit

Beatriz Corrales, representing past and present IHOP workers, in 2016 sued the restaurant chain alleging it denied breaks and withheld tip money

Workers lawsuit against Au Fudge alleging the restaurant failed to pay $430,000 in tip money, denied overtime and meal breaks, and kept gratuities left by private-party customers.

COLORADO

Colorado Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2016 servers and bartenders sued Shea’s American Bar and Grill alleging numerous acts of wage theft and improper record keeping.

In 2017 restaurant workers sued the Hampden Town House Restaurant alleging numerous acts of wage theft including failure to pay overtime and failure to give rest breaks.

In 2016 servers sued Ruby Tuesday’s Inc. alleging minimum wage violations.

FLORIDA

Florida Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

The Department of Labor obtained an order requiring La Nopalera to pay restaurant employees $934,000 for back wages and liquidated damages for wage theft violations including unpaid overtime and unpaid minimum wage.

Recent pending lawsuit

A server sued Steak & Shake Restaurant for back wages, alleging that the restaurant improperly used the tip credit in calculating her pay.

In 2015, restaurant employees sued Burger King for unpaid overtime

GEORGIA

Georgia Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2016 restaurant workers sued Scales 925 restaurant for unpaid wages base on unpaid overtime and unpaid time working off the clock.

In 2016 a baker sued Panera Bread for lost wages from unpaid overtime.

ILLINOIS

Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

Department of Labor 2017 consent judgment requires Fabulous Freddies Italian Restaurant to pay past and present employees $340,000 in back wages from unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017, a manager sued Red Lobster for failing to pay overtime.

In 2014, restaurant workers sued Jimmy John’s for lost wages alleging overtime and minimum wage violations

In 2014, a restaurant worker at U.S. Cellular Field sued Levy Restaurants for lost wages alleging that the employer improperly counted tip credits against wages

In 2016, restaurant workers sued Carlin Restaurants for wage theft caused by violation of overtime and minimum wage laws.

INDIANA

Indiana Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2017 Chili’s settled a lawsuit alleging lost wages from improper tip sharing for $250,000

No recent pending lawsuit

MARYLAND

Maryland Restaurant worker lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Recent pending lawsuit

Restaurant workers in 2017 sued Suburban House restaurant for unpaid wages from unpaid overtime and failing to pay minimum wage.

Restaurant workers in 2017 sued Founding Fathers restaurant for unpaid wages based on failure to pay overtime.

Two kitchen workers in 2017 sued Woodbury Kitchens restaurant for unpaid wages base on failure to pay overtime.

Restaurant workers in 2016 sued Canton Dockside restaurant for unpaid wages base on failure to pay overtime.

Restaurant workers in 2017 sued Harpoon Hanna’s restaurant for unpaid wages base on failure to pay minimum wage.

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2017, after a state attorney general investigation, Five Horses Tavern agreed to pay $15,000 in damages for wage theft violations.

No recent pending lawsuit

MICHIGAN

Michigan Restaurant workers lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2015, restaurant workers and Buffalo Wild Wings settled a lawsuit alleging minimum wage violations for $1.8 million.

In 2016, the Department of Labor forced Sophia’s House of Pancakes to pay workers $250,000 in back wages and damages for unpaid overtime and wage theft.

Recent pending lawsuit

Restaurant workers in 2017 sued Sundance, Inc., owner of 170 Taco Bell franchises for unpaid wages alleging misclassification, unpaid overtime, and wage theft

MISSOURI

Missouri Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Restaurant workers and Brio Restaurants in 2017 settled for $4 million a lawsuit alleging failure to pay overtime and minimum wage

No recent pending lawsuit

MISSISSIPPI

Mississipi Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina Restaurant worker lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2016, as server sued the Hickory Tavern chain alleging a violation of the minimum wage law.

In 2017, former employees sued An Asian Cuisine alleging violations of overtime and minimum wage laws.

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

NEBRASKA

Nebraska Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2015 after an investigation, the Department of Labor ordered Raymond’s restaurants to pay $325,000 in back pay for failing to pay proper overtime and minimum wages.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017 an employee sued Chipotle restaurants alleging that the company failed to pay her the overtime required by law.

In 2017 servers sued Philly Diner alleging wage theft for improperly using the tip credit to pay less than minimum wage.

In 2017, a server sued Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar alleging wage theft based on improper tip sharing.

In 2016, workers sued Five Guys restaurants alleging wage theft for failing to pay overtime.

NEW YORK

Restaurant worker lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent Settled lawsuit

Employees and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in 2017 settled for $2 million a lawsuit alleging wage theft based on unpaid overtime and tip pool mismanagement.

In 2016, employees and Gramercy Tavern settled for $695,000 a wage theft lawsuit based on tip pool mismanagement.

In 2015, employees and the Ruby Tuesday chain settled for $3 million a wage theft lawsuit based on unpaid overtime and failure to pay minimum wages.

In 2017, TGI Friday’s settled for $19.1 million a lawsuit with 28,000 past and present employees who alleged unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, and improper recordkeeping.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2016, employees sued a Wahlburgers franchise for unpaid wages alleging overtime and minimum wage violations.

In 2015, employees sued corporate-owned Buffalo Wild Wings for unpaid minimum wages

In 2017, a food preparer sued Roberto’s Restaurant for wage theft alleging unpaid overtime.

In 2017, employees sued Golden Krust restaurant for wage theft alleging unpaid overtime.

OHIO

Ohio Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

Following a Department of Labor investigation, the court in 2017 ordered Cathedral Buffet to pay present and past employees $389,000 in back wages for overtime, minimum wage, and recordkeeping violations.

Following a Department of Labor investigation, the court in 2017 ordered Azteca restaurant to pay 21 present and past employees $118,000 in back wages for overtime, minimum wage, and recordkeeping violations.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017, workers sued Café Istanbul for wage theft alleging unpaid minimum wage and overtime.

In 2016, three workers sued Buck’s 24-Hour Diner for wage theft alleging violations of recordkeeping, overtime, and minimum wage rules.

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2017, a federal court of appeals ruled that El Tequila owed present and past employees $2.1 million in back wages and damages violating recordkeeping, overtime, and minimum wage rules.

No recent pending lawsuit

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania Restaurant workers lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2015, Red Robin franchises agreed to pay past and present servers $1.3 million in unpaid wages for improper tip pooling and minimum wage violations

In 2017, Zahav restaurant agreed to pay 41 servers a total of $230,000 to settle a class action lawsuit alleging illegal tip sharing.

In 2015, Iron Hill Brewery agreed to pay present and past bartenders and servers $1.3 million for diverting tips.

In 2017, after a Department of Labor investigation, Mixto and Tierra Columbiana restaurants agreed to pay $830,000 in back wages and damages to 156 workers for overtime and record-keeping violations

Recent Pending lawsuit

In 2017, employees sued the Friendly Ice Cream chain for back wages alleging overtime pay violations.

In 2017, employees sued Wings Over Happy Valley for back wages alleging they minimum wage violations based on an illegal tip pool.

In 2016, employees sued Chili’s Grill and Bar for back wages alleging unlawful tip-sharing and minimum wage violations.

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2015, Carolina Ale House restaurants agreed to pay past and present workers $2.9 million in lost wages based on illegal tip-pooling and failure to pay minimum wage.

In 2016, Hyman’s Seafood agreed to pay past and present workers $1 million in lost wages for an improper tip-pool and breakage fees

In 2016, after a Department of Labor investigation, La Hacienda was ordered to pay $1.2 million in back pay and damages to 119 employees in 13 restaurants for overtime and minimum wage violations.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017, servers sued Captain George’s alleging wage and tip theft

In 2016, servers sued California Dreaming alleging unpaid minimum wage based on illegal tip-sharing

In 2017, an employee on behalf of herself and other tipped workers sued Smokey Bones restaurant for back pay for failing to pay minimum wage

In 2017, two former employees sued Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks alleging wage and tip theft based on force participation in illegal tip-pool.

TEXAS

Texas Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

Two workers in 2016 won a $108,000 judgment against Pollos Medina restaurant for back pay for failing to provide breaks and not paying overtime

No recent pending lawsuit

UTAH

Utah Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

No recent pending lawsuit

WASHINGTON DC

Washington DC Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2017, after a Department of Labor investigation, Johnny Rockets was ordered to pay $571,000 in back pay and damages to 55 servers in its metro locations based on minimum wage and overtime violations and misappropriated tips.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017, two assistant managers sued Panera Bread for back pay alleging the company failed to pay overtime

In 2016, cooks and dishwashers sued Lupo Verde Cucina & Bar for back pay alleging that the company failed to pay overtime

WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

No recent settled lawsuit

Recent pending lawsuit

An employee sued Applebee’s alleging it failed to pay tipped employees minimum wage at 23 restaurants

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Restaurant workers’ lawsuit for unpaid wages

Recent settled lawsuit

In 2017, after a Department of Labor investigation, El Azteca was ordered to pay $700,000 in back pay and damages to129 workers in four restaurants based on minimum wage and overtime violations.

Recent pending lawsuit

In 2017 a server sued Water Street Brewery for unpaid wages alleging minimum wage and overtime violations and alleging the employer unlawfully made the server pay for discarded tableware.

Contact an Experienced Labor Law Attorney if You Are A Restaurant Worker and Have Wage Theft or Unpaid Overtime OT Pay Claims

To get the money you deserve, call Lemberg Law at 855-301-2100. Our employment lawyers will review your case and give you no-nonsense answers to your questions.

 

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