Sidework Scams, Tip Shaving and No Overtime

Over the years, I’ve written extensively about the various machinations restaurant owners employ to pilfer wages and tips from their waitstaff. Whether it’s mom and pop operations or big chain restaurants, many owners seem unable to resist the temptation to steal from their employees; often using tactics like unpaid sidework, tip shaving or not paying overtime to separate you from your hard-earned money. I know from personal experience that servers often feel powerless to stop these illegal schemes, usually chalking it up as the cost of doing business. Well, feel powerless no more. There’s something you can do about it.

Attorney Lou Pechman, a lawyer who specializes in recovering stolen gratuities and wages, has written an excellent article in The Huffington Post about this issue and I think it’s required reading for anyone who slaves in the commercial food trenches.

You can read all about it here.

And if you’re a waiter and feel that you’re getting ripped off by owners and management, I suggest you give Lou’s office a call. His law practice can be found at Lou’s been fighting the good fight for waiters for a long time. I highly recommend him.

4 thoughts on “Sidework Scams, Tip Shaving and No Overtime”

  1. Nikki says:

    It really is scandalous. Here is another. Apparently, a restaurant in NYC called Dirt Candy decided to pay their waitstaff $15/hour and have a no tipping policy. Which is fine. But diners found an “administration” charge on the bottom of the bill. Most assumed it was just a required gratuity but that fee does not go to the waitstaff or even back of house (who also got a boost in wage, I must fairly point out). I am still not clear what the administration charge is for. Are these people bilking their customers in order to help pay these higher wages? Your thoughts, Steve?

    1. Brad Johnston says:

      Assuming “Nikki” is a waiter, I question why you should care. The waiter freely enters into a work contract to perform certain tasks during certain hours for a certain wage. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant charges customers 10 dollars to help feed their pet giraffe, EVEN if the charge deters customers from patronizing the restaurant. You either work there or you don’t. If you won’t work for a restaurant that charges customers $10 to help feed the pet giraffe, you won’t work for a restaurant that charges customers $10 to help feed the pet giraffe. You don’t have a leg to stand on, even if they’re not as long as a giraffe’s.

      1. Ridge says:

        As a customer though, I’d be curious if there was an extra charge, as well as if prices went up at the same time. Id end up asking where that fee went because a mysterious charge would make me still feel like I need to leave something on the table just in case, because I’d hate to stiff waitstaff.

      2. Chris says:

        Maybe she cares because, as you state, she can choose who she wants to work for, and would not choose to work for someone she thinks is unethical. Since she’s uncertain about whether this practice is unethical, she’s asking a known professional for their opinion. In your example, she knows what the $10 giraffe-feeding fee is for, and can make an educated decision about whether she’s okay with it. In her example, she’s unsure what the fee is for, and is thus seeking to become educated. I’m not sure why you’d think she shouldn’t care.

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