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Atlanta Restaurant Wage Violations Lawyer

Successfully Representing Restaurant Workers in 30 States in Over 400 Cases

Wage theft is rampant in the restaurant industry. For the last decade, Hall & Lampros, LLP has made it a priority to vindicate the rights of restaurant workers. We have represented servers, bartenders, assistant managers, chefs, sous chefs, dishwashers, line cooks, servers, bartenders, runners, bussers, hosts, barbacks, baristas, dishwashers and workers in all front of the house and back of the house positions.

We handle these common claims:

  • Excessive Sidework and Dual Jobs at tip-credit wages
  • Off the Clock Work
  • Rolling Back Clock in/Clock out (CICO) Hours
  • Failure to Pay full (non-tip-credit) wages for Training, Mandatory Meetings, and Deep Cleans
  • Illegal Tip Pools
  • Employer Taking Tips
  • Failure to Pay for Arrive Early/Stay Late Policies
  • Failure to Pay Overtime
  • Paying “salary” or “by 1099” without including overtime
  • Underpayment of Wages to Undocumented Workers

Know Your Rights Even if You Are Unsure Whether You Want to Make a Claim

Restaurant cookUnlike many other cases, restaurant workers often want to know whether they have a claim (and how much it is worth) even though they are not sure whether they want to pursue it. We understand: you want to know your rights but that does not necessarily mean you are ready to sue. You may not want to sue until you get another job. Or sometimes, the money is so good (even with the overtime violations) that you don’t want to upset the applecart just yet. Other times, you know a co-worker who may want to make a claim first (so you are not the first claimant). Other times, you have a very good relationship with the restaurant management. All of this is ok! We advise employees that they can wait: their FLSA claims will not expire for 2 years (three years in the case of willful violations). We’ll tell you your rights without any pressure or obligation.

Restaurants with gross annual revenue (total sales) of more than $500,000 are required to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) when paying employees. Most established restaurants meet this $500,000 threshold and fall under the FLSA protections. Some states add additional requirements to protect restaurant workers. The laws can be complex, and you need a lawyer who understands the wage laws and the restaurant industry.

The Atlanta restaurant wage & pay violation lawyers at Hall & Lampros have successfully handled claims against single owner and franchise restaurants including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Golden Corral, Seasons 52, Longhorn Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, Carrabba’s, Bahama Breeze, Cheddar’s, and many others.

Wage Theft Adds Up! We know servers and bartenders work mostly for tips. For this reason, they often let wage violations occur without enforcing their rights. But over time, the damages for wage violations add up especially because the FLSA permits recovery of 2 times your actual damages.

Contact Hall & Lampros, LLP now at 404-876-8100 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our firm.

Your recovery is separate from attorneys’ fees and costs. Federal law requires employers to pay the attorneys’ fees for employees who succeed in their claims.

These are a sample of the over 300 restaurant claims we have successfully prosecuted (the below numbers are what went into the restaurant workers’ pocket so the amount was not reduced by attorney’s fees or costs):

Position Type of Claim Client Recovery
Restaurant bartender overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $7,500.00
Restaurant bartender overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $10,700.00
Restaurant bartender/server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $7,600.00
Restaurant bartender/server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $10,000.00
Restaurant bartender/server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $8,500.00
Restaurant bartender/sever overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $12,000.00
Restaurant dishwasher overtime/off-the-clock/minimum wage $10,000.00
Restaurant kitchen overtime $11,000.00
Restaurant kitchen worker overtime/off-the-clock $12,500.00
Restaurant kitchen worker overtime/off-the-clock $5,000.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $7,500.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,500.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $9,500.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $9,000.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $4,203.95
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $5,200.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $3,766.03
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,011.26
Restaurant server overtime/opening and closing work sidework $2,661.14
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $10,500.00
Restaurant server opening and closing work sidework $1,000.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,103.95
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $3,943.29
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing sidework $7,750.00
Restaurant server overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,614.87
Restaurant server/Bartender overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $4,433.90
Restaurant server/Bartender overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,650.13
Restaurant server/Bartender overtime/off-the-clock/opening and closing work sidework $5,683.81
Restaurant Servers and Bartenders unpaid training confidential settlement

Call now for a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Restaurant Wage Questions:

Our ability to represent you has been demonstrated over the years. You can have confidence in us when you call 404-876-8100.

Frequently Asked Restaurant Wage Questions:

Restaurant waiterIs my restaurant covered by the FLSA?

Most restaurants are covered under the FLSA because they have at least two employees and gross annual revenues (total sales) of $500,000 per year.

Can my restaurant pay me $2.13 an hour for work before the restaurant opens or after closing?

No, your restaurant employer must pay you minimum wage for such time when you are not serving customers and cannot earn tips.

Can my restaurant pay me based on a tip credit for opening and closing sidework duties?

A restaurant cannot pay you a tip credit wage while requiring you to perform opening and closing sidework. See February 15, 2019 Department of Labor Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2019-2 (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/field-assistance-bulletins/2019-2) (a restaurant “employer may take a tip credit for any duties that an employee performs in a tipped occupation that are related to that occupation and either performed contemporaneous with the tip producing activities or for a reasonable time immediately before or after the tipped activities.”) We have successfully represented hundreds of servers and bartenders relating to excessive sidework claims.

Is my restaurant employer allowed to take some of my tips?

No, your employer is not allowed to take your tips. FLSA, 29 U.S.C. 203(m) (“[a]n employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purpose, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.”) An employer cannot pay any of your tips to managers, assistant managers, cooks, dishwashers or any other person who does not customarily earn tips.

Is my restaurant tip pool legal?

A tip pool is a process by which tipped employees at restaurants share tips with other employees who customarily receive tips. The ability to keep tips or share tips from a tip pool allows the employer to pay less than the minimum wage under a tip credit. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but employers can pay $2.13 if they allow their tipped employees to keep tips or participate in a tip pool.

An illegal tip pool is whether the restaurant keeps some of the tips for itself, or pays non-tipped employees (such as managers, dishwashers, or cooks) money that servers and bartenders earned as tips.

If you are in a mandatory tip pool where money from the tip pool is shared with management or non-customarily tipped employees, this is what is known as an illegal tip pool. Kubiak v. S.W. Cowboy, Inc., 164 F. Supp. 3d 1354-55 (M. D. Fla. 2016). Non-customarily tipped employees include positions such as: dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors. Kubiak 1355; see also, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, “Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)” at 1; 29 U.S.C.A. § 203(m).

In 2018, the FLSA was amended to specifically address this issue: “An employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.” 29 U.S.C.A. § 203 (m)(2)(B).

Therefore, regardless if you are paid minimum wage or a tip credit, your employer cannot keep any portion of your tips or make you take part in an invalid tip pool with managers, supervisors, dishwashers, cooks, chefs, or janitors or any other non-customarily tipped employee.

You are entitled to the “amount of the sum of any tip credit taken by the employer and all such tips unlawfully kept by the employer, and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.” 29 U.S.C.A. § 216(b).

Can I recover under the FLSA if I did not pay taxes on the wages or tips I was paid?

You can have a valid claim under the FLSA even if you did not pay taxes on the claim. Courts have held that whether you properly paid taxes is a separate issues that is not connected with an employer’s violation of the FLSA. You therefore can recover under the FLSA even if you did not pay taxes. Solano v. A Navas Party Prod., Inc., 728 F. Supp. 2d 1334 (S.D. Fla. 2010) (“Employee who failed to pay federal income taxes was not barred by in pari delicto from suing under the FLSA; employee was engaged in a legal occupation when employed by defendants, and his wrongdoing, failing to pay federal income taxes on wages already earned, was in no way connected with defendants’ alleged failure to properly compensate him. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, § 1 et seq., 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq.”); Armstead v. Jay Shree Umiya, Inc., 3:19-CV-00658-CLS, 2021 WL 1087221, at *4 (N.D. Ala. Mar. 22, 2021)

Can a restaurant employer require me to work off the clock?

No. The FLSA requires that your employer pay you at least minimum wage for all ours worked even if you were off the clock or forgot to clock in. Your employer must also pay you overtime based on all time actually worked, regardless of whether you were clocked in or at the work premises when working.

Can a restaurant employer roll back my time to reduce the hours for which I receive pay?

No. The FLSA requires that your employer pay you at least minimum wage and applicable overtime for all ours worked and cannot avoid paying you overtime and minimum wage by rolling back the time reflected in your clock-in/clock-out data.

Can my restaurant employer require me to show up early for work without pay?

If your employer makes you show up or stay late for at least ten minutes, you are entitled to compensation under the FLSA. See, Daniels v. Sanchelima & Assocs., P.A., No. 1:15-cv-21321, 2016 WL 4903065, at *4 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 20, 2016) (J. Ungaro); Freese v. Treecycle Land Clearing Inc., No. 17-CV-81169, 2019 WL 2637298, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2019).

Can a restaurant employer put me on salary and not pay me overtime?

Many employers try to save money by “putting their employees on salary.” The employer will then tell the employees that they are not entitled to overtime because they are on salary. This is illegal unless the employer is able to show that the employer is not covered under the FLSA or that an overtime exemption exists for the job. Whether your employer considers you to be on salary is irrelevant to the overtime determination.

What restaurant jobs are covered under the FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage protections?

All non-managerial positions such as servers, bartenders, cooks, dishwashers, bussers, and hosts, are covered under the FLSA, which provides protection for overtime, minimum wage requirements, tip credit, tip pool, excessive sidework, and off-the-clock claims.

Managers and assistant managers generally are exempt from the FLSA requirements, which means that there is no requirement that they be paid overtime. Head chefs and sous chefs sometimes are exempt from FLSA overtime depending on their training, their duties, and supervisory duties over other kitchen workers.

The exemptions provided by FLSA Section 13(a)(1) apply only to “white-collar” employees who meet the salary and duties tests set forth in the Part 541 regulations. The exemptions do not apply to many office workers and also do not apply to manual laborers or other “blue-collar” workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy.

FLSA-covered, non-management employees in production, maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, construction workers and laborers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime premium pay under the FLSA, and are not exempt under the Part 541 regulations no matter how highly paid they might be.

Can an employer fire me or retaliate for asking for overtime or making an FLSA claim?

It is illegal for your restaurant employer to fire you or retaliate in any way for making a federal claim for back wages. The FLSA prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee for requesting overtime compensation or proper wages, or filing a lawsuit seeking such compensation. Examples of prohibited retaliation include firing employees, making false statements about employees, providing less preferential treatment relating to shift or table assignments to any employee, harassing employees, threatening employees in any way, interfering with employee’s current or future employment, threatening to report or reporting employees relating to immigration status, and all other retaliatory conduct.

What does it cost for legal advice as to whether I have a claim?

Nothing. We are open 24/7 and will provide a free consultation on whether you have a claim. Text or call 404-876-8100 for the free consultation (or go to this website homepage and enter your information for a consultation).

What can I recover in an FLSA lawsuit if my restaurant employer owes me back wages for minimum wage or overtime?

Federal law usually provides a recovery of two times your unpaid wages. If an employer underpaid you $1,000, you could recover $2,000 (the $1,000 plus and additional $1,000 in liquidated damages plus) attorneys’ fees and costs.

What does it cost to bring a claim?

Nothing. We will incur all costs. You will pay nothing unless you recover. Under federal law, your employer may be liable for two times your damages plus attorneys’ fees and expenses. This means that, usually, the attorneys’ fees are paid separately so that it does not reduce your recovery.

What states offer additional overtime protections for restaurant workers?

The following states have overtime protections that in some cases are greater than the FLSA: California, New York, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Washington

How long do I have to bring an FLSA claim (what is the statute of limitations)?

You have 2 years to bring a claim if the employer’s FLSA violation was not willful. If the employer either knew or showed reckless disregard for whether its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA, the violation is considered willful and you have 3 years to bring a claim.

Can I bring an FLSA claim against my former restaurant employer?

You often can bring a claim against a former employer even if you stopped working there two years (and often three years) before. Because employers are required to keep wage records, a delay in filing a claim usually will not prevent you from getting the evidence you need to win the case.

If I agreed to be paid a salary without overtime, does that waive my claim for overtime?

You cannot waive your rights under the FLSA to overtime. This means that even if you agreed to be paid on salary or if you agreed to be paid as an independent contractor – you still are entitled to overtime if your job fits within the FLSA requirements. It is completely irrelevant whether you agreed to be paid a salary for purposes of the FLSA. It is completely irrelevant whether you agreed to be paid as an independent contractor.

Can an undocumented worker recover under the FLSA?

The FLSA provides protections even if you were working illegally. The FLSA applies and protects persons who have overstayed their visas or who are undocumented and not authorized to work in the United States. Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 25 F. Supp. 2d 1053, 1056–58 (N.D. Cal. 1998) (employee with expired visa can recover under FLSA and is protected from retaliation in form of reporting to INS); Patel v. Quality Inn South, 846 F.2d 700, 703 (11th Cir.1988

Can my employer report me as an undocumented worker for making an FLSA claim?

Federal law prohibits an employer from reporting you to the INS as an undocumented worker in retaliation for bringing an FLSA claim. Singh v. Jutla & C.D. & R’s Oil, Inc., 214 F. Supp. 2d 1056, 1059 (N.D. Cal. 2002); Reyes-Fuentes v. Shannon Produce Farm, Inc., 671 F. Supp. 2d 1365, 1368 (S.D. Ga. 2009) (“A plaintiff’s citizenship status does not deprive him of FLSA protection, including protection from retaliation, as “Congress has made manifest its intent that all workers, including undocumented aliens, have the right to be free from unlawful retaliation pursuant to the FLSA.” Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 25 F.Supp.2d 1053, 1058 (N.D.Ca.1998).)

Are there different laws in different states relating to overtime and minimum wage?

Some states have laws (for example California and New York) that provide greater protections for restaurant workers than the FLSA. State specific minimum wage and overtime laws are found here (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/state) We can discuss state specific guidelines in a free consultation.

Can a restaurant employer require me to attend meetings or training without pay?

The FLSA requires your employer to pay you minimum wage (and applicable overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week) for the time spent at all meetings, including safety meetings and beginning of the day meetings. Courts often consider such events that are less than 10 minutes to be de minimis. Court usually consider any unpaid work for more than 10 minutes to be a violation of the FLSA. See, Daniels v. Sanchelima & Assocs., P.A., No. 1:15-cv-21321, 2016 WL 4903065, at *4 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 20, 2016) (J. Ungaro); Freese v. Treecycle Land Clearing Inc., No. 17-CV-81169, 2019 WL 2637298, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2019).

The Supreme Court in Anderson explained the de minimis rule as follows:

“When the matter in issue concerns only a few seconds or minutes of work beyond the scheduled working hours, such trifles may be disregarded. Split-second absurdities are not justified by the actualities of working conditions or by the policy of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is only when an employee is required to give up a substantial measure of his time and effort that compensable working time is involved.” Burton v. Hillsborough Cty., Fla., 181 F. App’x 829, 838 (11th Cir. 2006).

“When applying the de minimis rule, a court considers three factors: “(1) the practical administrative difficulty of recording the additional time; (2) the aggregate amount of compensable time; and (3) the regularity of the additional work.” Lindow v. United States, 738 F.2d 1057, 1063 (9th Cir. 1984).” Jackson v. ThinkDirect Mktg. Grp., Inc., No. 1:16-CV-03749, 2019 WL 8277236, at *5 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 9, 2019).

A compensable “integral and indispensable” activity is rendered noncompensable if the time spent performing that activity is de minimis. “Courts have found as a matter of law a general threshold for de minimis as ten minutes or less, even if the work is otherwise compensable.” See Daniels v. Sanchelima & Assocs., P.A., No. 1:15-cv-21321, 2016 WL 4903065, at *4 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 20, 2016) (J. Ungaro).

Freese v. Treecycle Land Clearing Inc., No. 17-CV-81169, 2019 WL 2637298, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2019)

Can my employer charge me for my uniform?

If you are paid minimum wage (or under a tip credit wage), your employer cannot require you to pay for uniform costs under FLSA because such a deduction would bring your hourly pay below minimum wage. Moulton v. W.W.I., Inc., No. 1:18-CV-67-ALB, 2019 WL 3558032, at *1,*5 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 5, 2019) (granting

summary judgment to plaintiffs on this issue, where an employer who paid employees a tip credit of $2.15 per hour deducted from employees’ pay initial uniforms, three shirts, two aprons, and any replacements bringing their hourly wage below minimum wage.) Courts have held that an employer cannot shift the cost of purchasing uniforms to a minimum wage employee, see:

Uniforms are primarily for the benefit of the employer, therefore a minimum wage employee cannot be required to purchase their own uniforms. Arriaga v. Florida Pacific Farms, L.L.C., 305 F.3d 1228, 1236 (11th Cir. 2002) (“An employer may not deduct from employee wages the cost of [uniforms] which primarily benefit the employer if such deductions drive wages below the minimum wage. See 29 C.F.R. § 531.36(b). This rule cannot be avoided by simply requiring employees to make such purchases on their own, either in advance of or during the employment.”). In Nail v. Shipp, No. CV 17-00195-KD-B, 2019 WL 3719397, at *7 (S.D. Ala. Aug. 6, 2019), the court held “[E]ach required purchase of an apron which reduced an employee’s wages below minimum wage would violate the FLSA’s tip-credit provisions.” Id. at *8.

The issue then is whether the Plaintiffs received sufficient remuneration above minimum wage to compensate for the purchase of the apron. Tipped employees remuneration from the employer is the total of cash wages (in this case $2.13), the tip credit claimed (in this case $5.12) and the fair value of facilities furnished to the employee by the employer (e.g., meals). 29 C.F.R. § 531.60. The remainder of the money earned in tips is not remuneration. As explained in the context of determining overtime pay, “tips [in excess of the tip credit] are not payments made by the employer to the employee as remuneration for employment within the meaning of the Act.” 29 C.F.R. § 531.60. Therefore, when determining whether Plaintiffs earned more than minimum wage, tips received over the tip credit claimed are not considered.

Can my restaurant employer hold back, or delay, or fail to pay me my last paycheck?

Federal law does not address when an employer is required to pay an employee a final paycheck. Some states have specific requirements for immediate payment. Georgia has no law addressing the timing of final paychecks. Most courts apply a reasonableness standard. Typically, a reasonable time is the former employee’s next scheduled pay period/check. The Department of Labor’s treatment of this issue is here: FAQ Page on DOL Website.

Some states have specific requirements on payment of the last paycheck, while others have no specific requirement. For states with no requirement, the employer must act reasonably and cannot unreasonably delay payment of owed wages. The laws of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are set out below:

State Deadlines for Paying Final
Paycheck to Fired Employees
Deadline for Paying Final
Paycheck to Employees Who Quit
Alabama None None
Alaska 3 working days after employee’s last day Next payday that is at least 3 working days after employee’s last day
Arizona 7 working days after employee’s last day,
or the next regular payday (whichever comes first)
Next payday
Arkansas 7 days after termination Next payday
California Immediately 72 hours after quitting
Colorado Immediately Next payday
Connecticut Next working day Next payday
Delaware Next payday Next payday
District of Columbia Next working day Next payday or within 7 days, whichever is earlier
Florida None None
Georgia None None
Hawaii Immediately, or next working day Next payday, or immediately if employee gave advance notice
Idaho Next payday or 10 working days Next payday or 10 working days
Illinois Next payday Next payday
Indiana Next payday Next payday
Iowa Next payday Next payday
Kansas Next payday Next payday
Kentucky Next payday or 14 days, whichever is later Next payday or 14 days, whichever is later
Louisiana Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier
Maine Next payday Next payday
Maryland Next payday Next payday
Massachusetts Next payday Next payday
Michigan Next payday Next payday
Minnesota Within 24 hours of demand Next payday at least 5 days after employee’s last day, but no more than 20 days after final day
Mississippi None None
Missouri Immediately None
Montana Immediately None
Nebraska Next payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlier Next payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlier
Nevada Within 3 days Next payday or within 7 days, whichever is earlier
New Hampshire Within 72 hours Next payday
New Jersey Next payday Next payday
New Mexico Within 5 days, except that task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 days Within 5 days, except that task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 days
New York Next payday Next payday
North Carolina Next payday Next payday
North Dakota Next payday Next payday
Ohio Next payday Next payday
Oklahoma Next payday Next payday
Oregon Next business day Immediately if employee gave 48 hours notice; within 5 working days if employees did not give 48 hours notice
Pennsylvania Next payday Next payday
Rhode Island Next payday Next payday
South Carolina Within 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 days Within 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 days
South Dakota Next payday Next payday
Tennessee Within 21 days Within 21 days
Texas Within 6 days Next payday
Utah Within 24 hours Next payday
Vermont Within 72 hours Next payday
Virginia Next payday Next payday
Washington Next payday Next payday
West Virginia Next payday Next payday
Wisconsin Next payday Next payday
Wyoming Next payday Next payday

Can my employer require me to go to arbitration on my FLSA claims?

Many employers require their employees to sign an “arbitration agreement” agreeing to submit any employment disputes to arbitration. The Supreme Court in 2018 affirmed that employers can compel arbitration of FLSA claims, including FLSA class action (“collective action”) claims. Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 U.S. , 138 S.Ct. 1612 (2018). If you signed such an agreement, you would need to pursue your claim in arbitration. But if you have a valid claim, there is nothing about arbitration that should interfere with your recovery. Employers are permitted to compel employees to arbitrate their claims pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. 9 U.S.C. § 1, et. seq.

According to the American Bar Association, arbitration is a private process where disputing parties agree that one or several individuals (arbitrators) can decide about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing arguments. Your rights in arbitration are the same rights that you have if you file a lawsuit (except that there are limitations on your ability to appeal). When the arbitration agreement states that the arbitration is binding, the decision is final, can be enforced by a court, and can only be appealed on very narrow grounds. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/dispute_resolution/resources/DisputeResolutionProcesses/arbitration/

Importantly, you are entitled to the same rights and damages at arbitration as you would in a lawsuit filed in a court. Arbitration does not protect the employer from claims for violation of the law. Arbitration is favored by some defendants because it can provide a more streamlined and quicker resolution of the case.

restaurant wage violation lawyerWill mandatory arbitration hurt my claim?

Arbitration should not hurt your claim as you have the same rights in arbitration as you do in court. Hall & Lampros attorneys have successfully recovered at arbitration in over 200 FLSA claims.

Can my employer dock my pay for walk-outs, breakage, cash register shortages, customers who leave without paying their bill?

A restaurant cannot dock a server’s pay for customers who leave without paying their bill if the dock in pay would result in the server earning less than minimum wages. Thus, a minimum wage server (either $7.25 or at $2.13 tipped wage) cannot be docked pay for customers leaving without paying their bill.

Where deductions for walkouts, breakage, or cash register shortages reduce the employee’s wages below minimum wage, such deductions are illegal. When an employer claims an FLSA 3(m) tip credit, the tipped employee is considered to have been paid only the minimum wage for all non-overtime hours worked in a tipped occupation and the employer may not take deductions for walkouts, cash register shortages, breakage, cost of uniforms, etc., because any such deduction would reduce the tipped employee’s wages below the minimum wage. See U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, “Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)” at 1.

“The purpose of barring employers from being able to apply deductions to such a tipped minimum wage arrangement is to ensure that employees who rely on tips to receive minimum wage actually receive at least the minimum wage. See 29 C.F.R. § 531.59(b).” Parks v. MRB, Inc., No. 1:14-CV-1996-LMM, 2015 WL 13298573, at *6 (N.D. Ga. Nov. 16, 2015) (holding it a violation of the FLSA where an employee’s pay was regularly docked for liquor shortage even when the employee was paid minimum wage, reasoning that such docking of the employee’s pay brought her hourly wage below minimum wage and was similar to that of a tipped employee).

The base wage of $2.13 must be paid “free and clear.” 29 C.F.R. § 531.35. No part of the employee’s wage may “kick[ ]-back directly or indirectly to the employer or to another person for the employer’s benefit….” 29 C.F.R. § 531.35. For example, if an employee must provide their own tools, there is a FLSA violation when the employee’s purchase of necessary tools “cuts into the minimum or overtime wages required to be paid him under the Act.” 29 C.F.R. § 531.35. See Moulton v. W.W.I., Inc., No. 1:18-CV-67-ALB, 2019 WL 3558032, at *4 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 5, 2019).

What is the Minimum Wage in my State?

State 2019 Min. Wage 2020 Min. Wage 2021 Min. Wage
Alabama $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum)
Alaska $9.89 $10.19 $10.34
Arizona $11.00 $12.00 $12.15
Arkansas $9.25 $10.00 $11.00
California $12.00* $13.00* $13.00*
Colorado $11.10 $12.00 $12.32
Connecticut $11.00 $11.00 ($12.00 effective 9/1/20) $12.00
Delaware $9.25 $9.25 $9.15
Washington D.C. $14.00 $15.00 $15.20
Florida $8.46 $8.56 $8.65
Georgia $5.15 (Employers subject to Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage.) $5.15 (Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage) $5.15 (Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage)
Hawaii $10.10 $10.10 $10.10
Idaho $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Illinois $8.25 $10.00 $11.00
Indiana $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Iowa $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Kansas $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Kentucky $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Louisiana $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum)
Maine $11.00 $12.00 $12.15
Maryland $10.10 $11.00 $11.75
Massachusetts $12.00 $12.75 $13.50
Michigan $9.45 $9.65 $9.65
Minnesota $9.86** $10.00** $10.08
Mississippi $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum)
Missouri $8.60 $9.45 $10.30
Montana $8.50 $8.65 $8.75
Nebraska $9.00 $9.00 $9.00
Nevada $7.25*** $8.00*** $9.00
New Hampshire $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25
New Jersey $10.00 $11.00 $12.00
New Mexico $7.50 $9.00 $10.50
New York $11.10 $11.80**** (statewide) $12.50
North Carolina $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
North Dakota $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Ohio $8.55 $8.70 $8.80
Oklahoma $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Oregon $11.25**** $11.50**** $12.00
Pennsylvania $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Rhode Island $10.50 $10.50 $11.50
South Carolina $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum)
South Dakota $9.10 $9.30 $9.45
Tennessee $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum) $7.25 (Federal, no state minimum)
Texas $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Utah $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Vermont $10.78 $10.96 $11.75
Virginia $7.25 $7.25 $9.50
Washington $12.00 $13.50 $13.69
West Virginia $8.75 $8.75 $8.75
Wisconsin $7.25 $7.25 $7.25
Wyoming $5.15 (Employers subject to Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the Federal minimum wage.) $5.15 (Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage) $7.25

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/mw-consolidated

*$13.00 rate is for California employers with 26 or more employees. Employers in California with 25 or less employees have a minimum wage of $12.00 per hour.

**$10.00 rate is for large employers. Small employers have a minimum wage of $8.15 per hour.

***As of July 1, $8.00 rate is for Nevada employees who are offered health insurance. $9.00 rate is for Nevada employees who are not offered health insurance.

****Statewide minimum wages apply in areas that are not governed by a higher, local minimum wage ordinance. New York City and Portland Metro are examples of areas which have local minimum wage rates that exceed the statewide minimum.