On Wednesday, August 22, 2016, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP along with Nichols Kaster, PLLP filed a class action lawsuit against Granite City Food and Brewery. Granite City, a chain restaurant based out of Minnesota, has approximately 35 restaurant locations across the United States including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The Plaintiff alleges that she and other tipped employees were wrongfully denied their lawfully earned wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The lawsuit seeks to represent current and former tipped workers of Granite City restaurants in several different states. Specifically, the lawsuit could affect servers and bartenders that have worked for the company within the last three years. The lawsuit alleges that Granite City paid its tipped employees sub-minimum hourly wages under the tip-credit provisions of the FLSA. The tip-credit provisions of the FLSA permit an employer, under certain circumstances, to pay tipped employees less than the full minimum hourly wage and take a “tip credit” against its minimum wage obligations. However, an employer is not permitted to take a tip credit against its minimum wage if they require its tipped employees to perform non-tipped work that is unrelated to their tipped occupation or if they require them to perform non-tipped work that, although related to the employees’ tipped occupation, exceeds 20 percent of the employees’ time worked.
The plaintiff alleges that Granite City willfully violated the FLSA by paying servers and bartenders in this manner. They customarily required servers and bartenders to perform work unrelated to their tipped occupations such as running or expediting food; setting up the expediting station; sanitizing buckets; setting up and washing garbage cans; washing dishes and silverware; stacking plates and bringing them to the expedition line; sorting and rolling silverware; checking the bathrooms; taking out garbage; sweeping floors; chopping fruit; and breaking down and cleaning the expediting station. Completing these job requirements took up more than 20 percent of a tipped worker’s shift time leaving them with less time to earn tips while getting paid at a lower rate. If you’d like to read more about this case, please read the complaint here.
Unfortunately, the restaurant industry is riddled with workplace violations. Employees at restaurants may have issues with everything from unpaid overtime to wrongful termination. If you or anyone you know has worked in a restaurant and feel as though they have not been paid correctly or are owed money, please have them give us a call for a free phone consultation. You will be able to speak to one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your rights under the FLSA. You can reach us at 212-300-0375 or visit our website at www.fslawfirm.com.