Restaurant owners are subject to numerous regulations they must comply with and as various cases are litigated, rulings establish new precedents that can change how the industry does business. Maintaining a viable restaurant in today's world often requires due diligence from a legal perspective. The best way to stay on top of a changing legal landscape is to work closely with an employment law attorney who can keep you apprised.
Several recent cases are significant for the restaurant industry in how it manages tipped employees:
- Matthew Scott v. Souper Salad is a class action case brought against LNC Ventures LLC, the owner of the Souper Salad chain, which has restaurants in 45 locations. The plaintiff alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by requiring tipped employees to spend more than 20 percent of their time doing non-tipped employees' work. Tasks included cleaning, stocking supplies, sorting silverware and food preparation. Tipped employees work for lower rates than minimum wage employees and the lawsuit alleged these tasks prevented them from making fair wages. The plaintiff sought compensation for all hours worked that were less than minimum wage, interest, liquidated and punitive damages and attorneys' fees. The case settled out of court under a confidential agreement.
- Flood et al. vs. Carlton Restaurants et al is a lawsuit brought by several employees against Carlson Restaurants Inc., which owns TGI Friday's. The plaintiff is seeking certification as a class for TGI Friday's workers nationwide. Some of the FLSA allegations claimed in the lawsuit are that restaurant managers require off-the-clock work before the restaurant opens and after it closes that is not reflected on employee time cards and records. In addition, the plaintiff alleges that in violation of the FLSA, tipped employees have to spend significant time performing tasks that do not allow them to earn tips, such as food preparation, stocking inventory and cleaning. The case is being tried in the New York Southern District Court.
If you are a business owner with questions or concerns about wage and hours issues, contact Stephen Hans & Associates, an employment litigation law firm that has served clients in the Long Island City and New York area since 1979.