Waiters and waitresses all over America are filing claims and fighting back for the pay they are entitled by law to receive, according to an article in the Huffington Post. The article reports that labor law violations abound in the restaurant business and that the number of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases has increased by 200 percent.
Tips belong to employees, not their employers. Except in the case of valid tip-pooling agreements, wait staff cannot be required to give up their tips or a portion of their tips to their employers. When tips are shared in tip-pooling agreements, they can be distributed only among certain employees, not including managers and kitchen staff.
As reported in the Huffington Post article:
Wait staff, like other employees, are protected under FLSA minimum wage requirements. Employers may pay less than minimum wage as long as their servers receive enough in tips to bring the hourly rate up to minimum wage. If a server does not make enough in tips to bring the total compensation up to minimum wage in any given shift, the employer is required to make up the difference.
The Wiser Waitress reports that labor law violations are so widespread in the restaurant business that many restaurant workers assume this is the normal way things are done. According to the article, a study of the New York City restaurant industry revealed that 59 percent of restaurant workers reported overtime violations and 73 percent did not have health insurance. Many restaurant workers did not even know that tip sharing with management or kitchen staff is illegal.
FLSA lawsuits are being filed for tips restaurant owners collected and illegally pocketed or spread among workers and for overtime pay restaurant workers did not receive, according to the Huffington Post. Immigrants are commonly employed in restaurants, and business owners may take advantage of a lack of legal status and fail to comply with labor laws where those workers are concerned.
Restaurant workers have rights, and they are recovering millions in lost wages from New York City restaurants, according to Wiser Waitress. For example, a celebrity chef and his business partner agreed to a $5.25 million settlement of a suit for tip-skimming allegations, as reported by the New York Post.
If you have been paid less than minimum wage, if your tips have been pocketed by your employer or distributed among unqualified workers, or if you have not been paid overtime for hours beyond 40 hours per week, you may be entitled to file a claim for back wages or other compensation.
Laws governing the payment of restaurant employees are complicated. The Huffington Post reports that even lawyers and accountants often find them confusing. If you are uncertain whether your employer has violated your rights and whether you may be entitled to back wages or other compensation, your best course of action is to consult with a Long Island lawyer who handles employment law matters. Our attorneys have the experience, skills and dedication to protect your rights and help your recover the wages and compensation you deserve.
At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our Long Island employment lawyers help level the playing field for New York waiters and waitresses. We are well-versed in employment and labor law, and we take the rights and protections the law provides for workers seriously.
If you have been deprived of the wages, tips or overtime pay you were entitled to receive by law, our Long Island employment lawyers can help. Contact us today for an immediate free case evaluation.