A former server at the Bombay Club, the elegant Indian dining room frequented by U.S. presidents and Hollywood celebrities, filed a class-action lawsuit recently claiming that the restaurant and its management company violated local and federal labor laws by not paying him overtime and other wages.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claims that “there are more than 50 past and present non-exempt employees of the Knightsbridge restaurants who are similarly” affected.
The suit alleges that time cards indicate he punched the clock for 108.71 hours in January. He asserts that he was paid, according to a submitted pay stub, for 80 hours.
The lawsuit also claims that the Bombay Club required him and other servers to pool their tips when waiting on tables with 12 or more diners; from that pool of money, he alleges, the servers were expected to pay a 4 percent manager fee based on the total tab of the table. Similarly, the lawsuit alleges that managers improperly deducted a 76-cent “administrative fee” from each server’s daily tips to cover the costs of a software system to track tips.
In a May, the server received a check for $2,022.77, minus taxes and other withholdings, for his 602 hours of unpaid overtime.
The server did not cash the check and, instead, initiated the lawsuit, claiming the Bombay Club failed not only to pay all his overtime hours but also to use the correct hourly rate.
The server believes the overtime check was based on a rate of 1.5 times the District’s minimum wage for tipped employees, which is $2.77 per hour. But according to Alvarenga of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the hourly overtime rate for tipped employees must be 1.5 times the full minimum wage, from which the employer then subtracts its “tip allowance” (the difference between the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage). Under this formula, the seve says he should have been paid $7.52 an hour for overtime hours he accrued after July 1, 2014, when the District’s minimum wage increased to $9.50 an hour; overtime accrued prior to that date would be paid at $6.90 an hour.
Even if all of the server’s 602 hours were paid at the lower rate, his check before taxes would have been $4,153.80.
Unpaid overtime wage and hour claims are a widespread issue among the restaurant, bartending/nightclub industry. Managers are usually ordered by their supervisors to minimize labor costs, and because of this, some managers may dock time off their servers, bartenders, cooks, baristas, waiters, and waitresses clock-ins and clock-outs to limit the amount of overtime hours. Changing an employee’s time worked or hours worked is illegal and has been the grounds for various wage and hour lawsuits.
In certain situations, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs have also been held accountable when they have forced their servers and employees to share tips with the restaurant, managers, or created a tip pool.
If you feel that you may have been the victim of unpaid overtime or any other wages that are rightfully owed to you, our Florida Unpaid Overtime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you determine your legal rights. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free consultation.