Legal Center for Restaurant Employees
Why is tip theft common in restaurants?
A large part of our practice is devoted to representing restaurant workers in wage and hour disputes. There are a staggering number of restaurants that turn a blind eye to the laws that protect their employees, including their legal obligations with regard to tip sharing, proper treatment of tips, deductions, overtime pay, spread of hours pay, and other basic wage and tip laws. There are several factors explaining why restaurants are among the most common violators of state and federal wage laws.
First, the fact that tips are processed through the restaurant’s credit card processor plays a critical role in how restaurants view ownership of tips. Since most customers leave tips on a credit card, there is an interim period where the tips are in the possession of the restaurant until they are passed along to waitstaff. This gives restaurants a false sense of ownership over tips that legally belong to waitstaff.
Second, restaurants wrongly assume that employees cannot afford a lawyer who will hold them accountable. These restaurants will be surprised to learn that our law firm handles cases on a contingency fee basis – meaning, we only get paid if you get paid. In other words, we only get paid from any amount that we recover in your case. And, if we do not obtain a recovery for you, you will not owe us anything for any of our time or the expenses we invest into your case.
Third, the restaurant industry is competitive and the need for more profit is a driving factor. Unfortunately, we see restaurants attempting to increase their profit margins by taking tips from their employees or passing on business expenses to their employees.
Finally, the laws governing the payment of tips and wages to restaurant employees are extremely complex. Lawyers who do not regularly handle cases in this area of law often get it wrong or don’t catch the mistakes.
Given the potential for abuse and the large number of single parents working in the restaurant industry, representing waiters and waitresses is something we really enjoy doing. Our representation of waiters and waitresses effectuates industry-wide change and ensures fair wages for the American working class. Our two primary goals in restaurant cases are as follows: (1) recover unpaid wages and tips for waiters and waitresses; and (2) motivate change throughout the restaurant industry so that servers do not continue to be subjected to unfair wage practice and tip theft.
Not only will filing a lawsuit allow you to recover your unpaid compensation, but you will also become part of the voice for change. When we file lawsuits against restaurants, it sends a message not only to your current employer, but to other restaurants that they cannot taking advantage of restaurant workers and engaging in unfair wage practices.