If servers in Florida want to be successful in the restaurant industry, they need to hustle and do a good job to collect as much in tips as possible. However, when servers are victims of wage theft, all of that hard work may be in vain. The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit on behalf of servers in another state who were allegedly the victims of wage theft from unpaid overtime and tip pooling. The DOL has named A.C.E.R Group, -- which operates 17 restaurants -- the company president and partial owner as defendants.
According to the complaint, the bartenders and servers were required to hand over a portion of their tips. These tips were then added to a pool that was distributed to other employees who do not receive tips, such as management, kitchen staff and maintenance. Allegedly, not all of the money that was given to the tip pool was given to the employees, and management had taken a portion of it for themselves. The activities alleged violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Additionally, A.C.E was reportedly not paying the staff overtime. The employees were also apparently being double charged for their meals -- once when they paid for it at the time of service and then again when it was deducted from their pay checks. Some of the maintenance staff were purportedly being paid less than minimum wage.
The DOL claims that A.C.E. has taken $40,000 in tips from the workers. If the claims are properly documented in court, the 1,430 affected workers will be reimbursed for their unpaid overtime, stolen tips and other financial relief as well as monetary damages. Individuals in Florida who believe that they are not being paid in accordance with state and federal laws can first try to handle the situation with their supervisors. If an acceptable remedy is not forthcoming, the workers may consider moving forward with legal recourse.
Source: consumerist.com, "Restaurant Group Behind 17 N.J. Houlihan's Sued For Allegedly Pocketing Workers' Tips, Not Paying Overtime", Mary Beth Quirk, Oct. 2, 2015