Servers Sue Local Cantina for Keeping Employee Tips in Alleged COVID-related Scheme
Updated: Sep 11
Earlier this month, bartenders and servers filed suit against several Columbus-area Local Cantina restaurants for overtime and tipping violations.
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The workers’ allegations stem from a new policy put in to place when the restaurant re-opened for business after the COVID-19 shutdown. The new policy is set to apply only to the months of May and June 2020. The servers allege the policy has two components:
- First, Local Cantina keeps all of the tips received by servers and bartenders.
- Second, Local Cantina pays servers and bartenders a set weekly rate, and do not pay overtime when the employees work it.
The workers allege that the restaurant’s new policy violates state and federal minimum wage and overtime laws. Employers are never permitted to keep tips left by customers for their employees. Also, employees who do not qualify for any “exemption” from the federal wage law must receive overtime wages when they work over 40 hours. The servers and bartenders allege that they are not subject to any exemption.
The workers allege that Defendants’ new arrangement is actually a way for the company to pocket more money by taking advantage of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Under the federal relief program, businesses are eligible for 100% loan forgiveness on loan money that is spent on payroll. The workers allege that the company’s plan is to pay out more to workers as payroll—which will be completely forgiven by the federal government—and to simultaneously keep the employees’ tips. The result, the workers allege, is that the company effectively gets free labor and gets to keep the tips paid to workers by customers.
The servers and bartenders also allege that their wage and hour violations predate the COVID-19 crisis: since the advent of online ordering, whenever a customer left a tip on an online to-go order, that tip was not given to the servers or bartenders.
Do you work in a restaurant that recently changed your compensation in the months of May and June 2020? Is your employer keeping your tips?
If so, you might have a claim for unpaid wages and stolen tips. Contact our firm at 513-202-0710 for a free consultation, or complete the form below and we will contact you.
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