Restaurant Workers Benefit from Class Action Lawsuits for Unpaid Wages
There are many different reasons wage theft is so common in the restaurant industry. A high rate of server turnover means the theft is more likely to go unnoticed, while the large pool of ready cash from tips can lead to theft before the full amount is accounted for. Also, state and federal wage and hour laws can be extremely complex, and many restaurant owners simply make accounting mistakes. No matter what the reason, failure to legally compensate employees can make management and the owner of the restaurant subject to a class action lawsuit.
Class action cases can help you if your employer has been guilty of doing the following:
Not Paying for All Hours Worked
It is against the law in California not to provide employees with proper wage statements that clearly show all hours worked and all deductions taken from pay. Employees who regularly go unpaid for minutes on each shift can be owed hundreds or thousands of dollars at the end of the year, especially if they were not paid overtime for working over 40 hours in one week.
Meal and Rest Break Violations
Employers are either required to provide rest breaks and meal breaks, or they are required to pay employees a premium if these breaks are forgotten. Workers can be owed one hour of their regular pay for each missed meal or rest break.
Employers can steal tips in many ways, including keeping gratuities left by customers, illegally pooling tips to pay the wages of bussers and dishwashers, and giving a percentage of tips as a “perk” to managers or other non-tipped employees.
Failing to Record “Off the Clock” Work
Restaurant operators may encourage workers to work for free by offering them free meals, requiring employees to perform work before or after they clock in or out, or asking them to volunteer extra hours for special events. Unfortunately, working “off the clock” usually deprives employees of money twice—once during the shift, and again if their recorded hours would have qualified them for overtime.
Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
Employers may mistakenly or purposefully classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, depriving them of the right to overtime, minimum wage, and workers’ compensation benefits.
Using Wages to Pay Business Expenses
There are strict rules for wage deductions, and employers cannot automatically deduct any unapproved costs directly from a worker’s check. Restaurant owners have been known to use wages to pay for the costs of running the business, including requiring employees to launder their own uniforms or failing to reimburse employees for business expenses.
Waiting Time Violations
California law requires employers to provide timely payment upon termination, paying any wages owed on the employee’s last day of work. If an employer withholds wages either during employment or upon termination, the employer can be liable for paying an additional day’s wages to the employee for every day he or she is kept waiting.
If you are not getting the full amount of your paycheck or tips, are not given required breaks, or are not being paid in a timely manner, your employer may be breaking the law. One thing is for certain: if a restaurant owner is cheating you out of your wages, there is a good chance that the entire staff is being cheated as well. Joining a class action not only gives you and your fellow employees the chance to recoup your wages, it also allows you to hold the employer accountable and ensure all future employees are not mistreated.
To find out whether your employer may be guilty of wage theft, please feel free to use our website as a resource in your claim, or learn more about your rights in our free book, California Truck & Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide to Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back