Former waiters of Picnic Garden BBQ Buffet in Queens, New York have sued the Korean Barbeque style restaurant in federal court claiming that it actively used server tips to pay the wages of its bussers, make up for unpaid customer tabs, and collect fees that the restaurants and its managers would pocket. The waiters also claim that Picnic Garden failed to pay them legally required minimum and overtime wages. Instead, the restaurant would pay them no more than $50 per day for shifts that routinely exceeded twelve hours.
Both federal and state labor laws require all workers, even those receiving tips, to receive minimum wage and overtime wages. In New York City, although the minimum wage is $15 per hour, a server may be paid a “tipped minimum wage” of $10 an hour so long as their employer informs them of the tip credit in writing and accurately tracks their tips to ensure the server earns at least the regular minimum wage rate of$15 an hour when his or her tips and hourly pay are added together. Additionally, customer gratuities can only be pooled and shared between employees who actively interact with customers like waiters, bussers, food runners, and bartenders. Manager, restaurant owners, and cooks are now allowed to receive gratuities. Moreover, employers are not allowed to use customer gratuities to pay out the base wages of their employees (including those receiving the tips), to make up for lost revenue, to collect “house fees,”or to pay out a portion to managers.
As a result of these practices, Picnic Garden BBQ Buffet could be required to pay the former servers owed minimum wages, owed overtime wages, and misappropriated gratuities among other damages under law.
If you have been the victim of wage theft or have questions about your rights as a worker, contact the attorneys of Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500.