When I was a waiter I saw and heard about restaurant owners and managers pulling all sorts of illegal nonsense. Here are a few of them.
1. Telling a new hire that they wouldn’t be paid during their two week “probationary period” and then, when that expired, cut them loose.
2. A restaurant owner illegally making the waiters kick a portion of their tips to the kitchen in order to augment the piss poor wages he was paying them.
3. A restaurant owner dipping into the tip pool to give money to his kid, chauffer or sibling.
4. A manager asking for bribes under the guise of “gifts” so a waiter could get better shifts or even work at all.
5. Ownership using money from the tip pool to pay pastry chefs, managers and banquet managers.
6. A restaurant who paid it’s staff less than two dollars an hour and fined the delivery boys when food was stolen from them or for slamming the door.
7. A restaurant owner who regularly made anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist comments to his staff.
8. Restaurant owners refusing to pay for workers’ injuries because of their immigration status.
9. Owners who shorted the government on payroll taxes.
10. Management who demanded sexual favors for good shifts.
11. Physical abuse and mental cruelty.
12. Refusing to pay workers for vacation time that they were told to expect.
13. Making waiters pay for breakage and when customers walked out on the check.
14. Owners who stole from the tip pool to finance their cocaine habits and strip club patronage.
15. Not paying for overtime. (None of the places I worked at ever heard of the concept.)
16. If a waiter had a stain on his white apron, make the waiter buy a replacement worth 2 dollars for 15 bucks or go home.
17. Taking credit card processing fees for the entire check out of a waiter’s tip.
18. Taking money out of waiters’ pay for meals and then not feeding them or offering a bowl of tasty gruel as a substitute.
19. Failure to pay minimum wage. Yes, waiters are paid below minimum wages in the expectation tips will make up for the shortfall. But if it’s a slow night and the server’s tips do not bring him to the hourly mimimum, the owner has to make up the difference. You can expect hell to freeze over before that happens.
20. And my favorite, a manager who called the cops on waiters when they had the temerity to argue with them and then accuse the the poor slob of stealing.
But do not fear my weary and abused brethren, help is out there. I’d like you to introduce you to a wonderful website – WaiterPay.com. It’s run by the law firm of Berke-Weiss & Pechman in New York City and they have vigorously sued and won millions of dollars in judgments for New York City waiters
Now you might not be able to prove if a restaurant is guilty of sexual, mental or verbal harassment – but you sure as hell can sue when they violate Federal and State labor laws and screw you out of your hard earned money. It’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. Now many restaurants are above board and treat their workers with respect, but quite a few of them don’t. If you feel like your restaurant is fleecing you take a gander at their website or give them a call.
Hit the guilty where it hurts – their wallets.
And no, I have not been paid for this endorsement.