On June 19, 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Reata Restaurant on behalf of a group of former servers and bartenders. The lawsuit seeks to represent other Reata Restaurant servers and bartenders, who opt-in and sign a consent to join the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Reata illegally retained a portion of its servers and bartenders’ tips by making illegal deductions from their wages. The lawsuit further alleges that Reata illegally included the bar-manager in the tip pool and required its servers to perform “side-work” in violation of federal wage laws.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Reata illegally shifted its costs of doing business to its servers and bartenders by illegally charging for:
- Reata-branded check presenters
- Reata-branded ink pens
- Name Tags
- Wine keys
- Pen lights
The lawsuit alleges that instead of Reata covering these costs of doing business, Reata illegally shifts to its servers and bartenders its costs of doing business in violation of federal law. See Reich v. Priba Corp., 890 F. Supp. 586, 596 (N.D. Tex. 1995) (“The FLSA does not permit an employer to transfer to its employees the responsibility for the expenses of carrying on an enterprise.”); see also 29 C.F.R. §§ 531.3(d)(2) and 531.32(c).
The lawsuit also alleges that Reata illegally allowed its bar-manager to participate in the tip pool. Finally, the lawsuit alleges that Reata illegally required its servers to perform side-work at the subminimum server wage of $2.13 per hour.
The lawsuit asks the Court to allow the action to proceed collectively on behalf of all current and former Reata servers and bartenders who sign a consent to affirmatively opt-in and join the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges as a result of Reata’s illegal conduct, Reata is prevented from paying its servers and bartenders the sub-minimum “server wage” and instead must pay each server and bartender who joins the lawsuit the full minimum wage for each hour worked in the past three (3) years. [i.e. Reata must pay each server $5.12 for each hour worked, which is the difference between the server wage ($2.13) and the full minimum wage ($7.25)] [Reata must pay each bartender $2.10 for each hour worked, which is the difference between the bartender wage ($5.15) and the full minimum wage ($7.25)]
For those servers and bartenders who sign a consent to join the lawsuit, the lawsuit seeks recovery at the rate of $5.12 per hour for servers and $2.10 for bartenders for each hour worked at Reata in the past three (3) years plus double this amount as “liquidated damages.” The lawsuit also seeks recovery of the amounts Reata illegally charged its servers and bartenders for Reata’s business expenses plus an equal amount as liquidated damages. Finally, the lawsuit seeks an additional award for the servers and bartenders’ attorneys’ fees and costs.
October 23, 2019 – Claims Proceed to Arbitration
On October 23, 2019, in accordance with the parties’ agreement, the Court sent the case to arbitration, where the claims will proceed in accordance with the rules of arbitration.
October 22, 2019 – Parties Agree to Arbitration
On October 22, 2019, the Court was notified that the servers and Reata agreed to arbitration.
October 3, 2019 – Case Transferred to Fort Worth
On October 3, 2019, the District Court Judge in Alpine transferred the case to the District Court in Fort Worth.
July 16, 2019 – Amended Complaint filed
On July 16, 2019, we amended the original complaint against Reata. First, the Amended Complaint asks the Court to include current and former bartenders in the class definition. Also, the Amended Complaint adds to the list of illegal deductions to include name tags. Finally, the lawsuit was amended to allege that Reata required its servers to contribute tips to a tip pool, which illegally included a manager.
June 19, 2019 – Complaint filed