In Orlando, a pair of restaurant workers are suing their former employer, Hard Rock Cafe (the biggest one in the world, btw), alleging that the company ripped them off by taking their tips and divvying them up among the kitchen staff. That's illegal, says their attorney, Sam J. Smith. In fact, for nearly three years, the pair say they were paid less than minimum wage.
Hard Rock spells hard work, the kind of work that should be worth at least $7 an hour.
The complaint says that Hard Rock tried to cheat servers and bartenders by taking a tip credit allowable only when the servers and bartenders are allowed to retain all of their tips or where a tip pooling arrangement is instituted among employees "who customarily and regularly receive tips."
The suit alleges that servers and bartenders improperly shared their tips with "expediters" -- kitchen employees responsible for making sure food plates are garnished properly.
Another attorney on the case, Hillary Schwab, added,
"In this economy, servers and bartenders need all the tips they can get. Hard Rock should have known that a tip-sharing arrangement that included kitchen staff violated Florida and federal law."
It's news that should concern every diner: When you leave dollars on the table, you're usually leaving it for the harried waitron who did right by you -- not donating to the schlub back in the kitchen who added your parsley sprig.
The real crime is that minimum wage isn't up to $10 an hour by now.