Restaurant Found Requiring Wait Staff to Pay $2/hour to Continue to Work

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Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor discovered that a local Kalamazoo restaurant was requiring wait staff to pay $2 an hour from tips to continue to work and discriminated against a server.

Department of Labor Wage and Hourly Division investigators found that the owners of Sophia’s Pancake House were requiring servers to pay $2 an hour from their tips, failing to pay workers for time worked, failing to pay workers overtime, making employees pay for missed orders and uniforms, which dropped their pay below minimum wage.

Mary O’Rourke, district director for the Wage and Hour division in Grand Rapids, said in a release, “Requiring employees to hand over part of their tips to their employer poses a serious problem to workers who, in many cases, are already struggling to get by, and also undercuts those employers that obey the law and pay their workers properly.”

Investigators also found that the owners retaliated against the employees that brought the wage issue to the attention of the Department of Labor.

A Federal judge ordered Sophia’s Pancake House and the owners, John P. Filis and Peter P. Philis, to pay $245,000 in back wages and damages to 118 employees of the restaurant’s two locations in Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor.

The owners are also court ordered to retrain all managers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, install a point-of-service or computer system to track hours and tips and provide workers with a wage statement.

O’Rourke said in a release, “Tips are the property of the workers, and must be retained by them except where a valid tip-pooling arrangement is in place that includes only tipped workers. We see far too many violations of this nature in the restaurant industry, where low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to unfair labor practices. Often, their employers take advantage of them. The terms of this consent judgment should serve as a wake-up call to other restaurants attempting to short workers in this manner.”

This article originally appeared in WWMT.


Bree is a recent college graduate from NYC who excels in writing, social media, music-listening, and pizza pie-eating.