A number of wage theft lawsuits and settlements have been occurring during the past five years. However, they haven’t received as much media attention as restaurant workers’ fight for higher minimum wages.
As a restaurant owner, you should be aware of what wage theft is and the ways it can occur. Ensure your restaurant managers aren’t engaging in wage theft activities.
Examples of Wage Theft and Related Lawsuits
Large chain restaurants have been subject to lawsuits for reducing hours, not paying proper wages for side work and for misappropriating tips.
Requiring workers to work off the clock is not legal but some chain restaurants have been settling claims that allege they’ve been doing this. The Huffington Post reported about several well-known restaurant chains that settled or paid huge sums in wage theft lawsuits.
Ruby Tuesday settled a case for $3 million in 2014. The restaurant avoided paying bartenders and servers overtime by having them do checklists before or after clocking in for work. They also shaved hour totals down to 40 hours/week when workers went over 40 hours.
Outback Steakhouses settled a $3 million lawsuit to workers claiming that the restaurant required workers to complete pre-shift work before clocking in.
A Papa John’s New York franchise had to pay more than $2 million in overtime rates under the order of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for rounding down hours worked to the whole number to avoid paying overtime, and for paying workers the “tipped minimum wage” when they mainly did un-tipped work and for not reimbursing employees for the purchase and maintenance costs of bicycles used in deliveries.
Red Robin Restaurants in Pennsylvania paid $1.3 million for requiring tipped workers to share tips with kitchen expeditors when the restaurant was taking tip credits and not paying servers a full minimum wage. Kitchen expeditors had no contact with customers and did not qualify to be paid as tipped workers.
Johnny Rockets had to pay 55 servers more than $570,000 under order of the Department of Labor (DOL) because they required servers to share tips with cooks and dishwashers.
Fourteen TGI Fridays servers received $485,000 to settle claims for having to spend more than 20 percent of their work time doing side work instead of directly relating to customers, which violates the 80/20 rule for tipped employees. Part of this settlement amount was also due to being forced to work off the clock.
Are You Concerned About Wage Theft?
If so, get legal advice as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates is an employment law defense firm and can advise the best course of action for you to take as an employer
As an employer, being knowledgeable about sexual harassment and the types of challenges you can potentially face is to your advantage. With proper insight, you can take preventative measures against having harassment arise in your work environment.
EEOC Study on Sexual Harassment
In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received an estimated 28,000 charges that alleged sexual harassment from employees who worked for private employers or state or local government employers. Read More
Businessman Sexually Harassing Female Colleague
Sexual Harassment Definition and Examples
The EEOC Select Task Force discovered that women who experienced sexual harassment ranged from 25% to 85%. The main difference in responses was because some workers did not label the experience as “sexual harassment.” However, when behavior examples were used, the incident rate rose to 75%. Some examples described a sexual advance and other behaviors pointed to sexually crude terminology or displays (posting pornography for example). The two categories broke down into behavior that was a “come on” or a “put down.” With these types of examples, close to 60% of the women surveyed reported they had experienced harassment.
Based on these statistics, every business should be concerned about preventing sexual harassment.
Stephen Hans & Associates is an employment litigation firm that has assisted small and medium sized businesses with employment law for more than 20 years.
“I’m so pleased that the city Department of Health threw dog lovers a bone,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) was quoted as saying by The New York Daily News. She sponsored the NYC law that allows dining with dogs.
Restaurant owners already have many regulations to abide by and under the previous law, restaurants were required to verify the dog owner’s licensing and vaccination documents before allowing the dog owner and dog in outdoor restaurant areas. Despite the fact that laws allowed dogs in outdoor areas, this strict requirement kept dog lovers away.
As a restaurant owner, did you know…?
Under new changes in the law, now restaurants simply must post signs that dogs accompanying their owners must be licensed and vaccinated for rabies.
The objective of the legal change was to create a balance that gave dog lovers greater freedoms and still protected other diners at the same time. Restaurant owners are still obligated by law to keep the outdoor dining area separate from pedestrians and dogs on the sidewalk. Also, dogs cannot touch dining table surfaces or obstruct aisle space.
It’s difficult to keep up with regulatory and legal changes. This change is good news for restaurants that allow dogs because it will help them attract more business.
Anymore, the responsibilities of running a business include being legally savvy to protect your rights and interests. Through effective legal guidance, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates can keep you informed and help you protect your rights as a business owner.
New York Family Medical Leave Act Benefits (FMLA)
As an employer, from time to time, you’ll have employees who want to take a family leave. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants employees the right to take a leave under certain circumstances and also keep their job secure.
The recent New York State law that increased minimum wages also created changes in FMLA leaves for New Yorkers.
Family members can now request a 12 weeks paid family leave. New York’s family leave program is currently the most comprehensive in the nation. The circumstances under which you can request family leaves include:
- Caring for an infant
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Relieving family pressures when a family member is called to active military service
Here is how the program works: Read More
Benefits for Women: Read More
All too often in the past, when women left their jobs to care for a newborn baby, their careers suffered based on diminished future earnings. This new law aims to equalize income opportunities for women and is a vital step in the long-term for establishing income equality for women.
As an employer, you may have questions or issues that arise regarding family leaves. Stephen Hans & Associates can help you understand your rights as employers and provide effective legal guidance.
As an employer, you may wonder where to draw the lines as far as monitoring employees’ phone calls at work. Certainly for quality control purposes, it makes sense to monitor calls with customers or clients. But how do laws limit what you can do?
If the call is made while in California and all parties are in California at the time, then CA state law requires you to inform parties when conversations are being recorded. Let’s say as a NY employer, you send a team of sales people to attend a conference in California. You would need to inform them that you’re monitoring calls based on CA state law.
According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, federal law under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allows companies to monitor business-related calls without informing about monitoring. ReadMore
What about personal calls? Read More
At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys routinely consult with business owners to help put company policies in place so they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Relying on trusted legal guidance is simply part of doing business in today’s world.
Author: Stephen D.Hans & Associates-Employment Defense Law firm located in LIC Queens, New York
While in some states employers are able to establish company policies that limit what employees can post about employers, New York’s laws protect the employee’s privacy rights.
First of all, New York State law prohibits you from asking employees for the username or password to their social media accounts. It also prohibits accessing these accounts through other electronic means, which protects employees’ privacy regarding these accounts. The New York State Privacy Protection and Internet Safety Act determines when and how online personal and private information can be destroyed and establishes responsibilities and enforcement.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has general policies in place advising employers not to establish rules that prevent employees from discussing wages or working conditions with each other. However, if an employee is critical of the company and complaints are not in relation to group activities among employees, then the employee is probably liable. Situations vary depending on the facts involved.
If you’re concerned that an employee is posting opinions on Facebook or some other social media outlet that is damaging your company’s reputation or resulting in lost income, consult with one of our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates