Problems with unpaid labor in the food industry

The food industry, especially restaurants with tight margins, are notorious for violating the FLSA and other wage and hour laws. You would think that since these companies only have to pay their wait staff $2.13 an hour that they wouldn’t care as much about someone hitting overtime but that is not the case. Waiters and Waitresses are not only more frequently subjected to things like sexual harassment and abusive managers, but they are also frequently the victims of wage and hour violations. Common examples of wage and hour violations that employment lawyers, and specifically wage and hour lawyers, see at restaurants around Nashville and Middle Tennessee are:

  • Tip pool violations:  staff are forced to tip out other workers and managers who are not entitled to tips and sometimes this even causes them to fall below minimum wage, especially when the tip pool amount is based off of the ticket amount and not the actual amount tipped.
  • Off the Clock violations:  staff are forced to clock out for 45 minutes while they wait for a table, or to clock out at the end of the shift but before they are allowed to go home.  This is illegal under the FLSA and in Middle Tennessee, but it happens all the time.
  • Too much sidework:  waiters and waitresses can get paid less per hour because they are making tips, but sometimes they spend a huge chunk of the day doing side work and not waiting tables or bartending.  If you are spending a bunch of time doing side work, many times you are supposed to be paid the regular minimum wage and not the $2.13 per hour but the restaurant doesn’t do that which results in the worker being unfairly victimized.
  • Unpaid training and meetings:  if you are required to show up for meetings or training sessions, you are supposed to be paid for this time since it is essential for work.  If you are being forced to show up to work early for meetings and not being put on the clock, this is likely an FLSA or wage and hour violation and you need to find a Nashville Employment Lawyer who represents employees.
  • Requirements that you show up to work before your shift:  like the above unpaid training, if you are required to be at work at a certain time and are not allowed to come later without penalty, and you are not being paid, there may be a wage and hour violation and you should also seek an attorney.

Many times, people in restaurants are subjected to harassment, abuse, and hostile working conditions but having a boss who is a jerk is unfortunately not illegal.  Many times however, there is also a wage and hour violation that will at least make sure that the next employee subjected to such a hostile work environment is at least getting paid what they are legally entitled to for dealing with it all.

– Morgan Smith, Nashville and Middle Tennessee Employment Lawyer, for the employees.  (615) 620-5848.

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