If Paying to Work Doesn’t Sound Right, That’s Because It’s Not.


Working for YouLee este artículo en español.
When new management took over at the Benton Harbor, Michigan, pancake house where she had been serving for several years, Erica Campbell knew some of the company’s wage practices were simply not right.

The restaurant began requiring servers to pay the employer $2 per hour from their tips, but didn’t have a tip pooling arrangement in place. After speaking to management about the practices, she found that she suddenly was not getting many tables during her shift, and watched her income drop.

“I had always made good money in tips and really enjoyed my job,” she said. “It got really stressful because I support my mom and my niece and nephew and I was struggling to take care of them.”

Erica on her way to her new job, Erica on her way to her new job.

After cooperating with an investigation of the restaurant in 2012 by the Wage and Hour Division, Erica was fired for “chewing gum,” a policy that she had never heard mentioned before.

During its investigation, the Wage and Hour Division found that this tip pooling practice was in place at the two popular Sophia’s House of Pancakes restaurants in Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor. But according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, tips are the property of the employee. In a valid tip pool, employers may collect tips as long as employees are notified of the arrangement and tips are redistributed by the employer to eligible employees in the pool and not used for any other purpose.

The division also found that the restaurants failed to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime, record keeping and anti-retaliation requirements.

Ultimately, the Labor Department was able to obtain a consent judgment in favor of the workers. The company has been ordered to pay $122,500 in back wages and $122,500 in liquidated damages to 73 employees at the Kalamazoo location and 45 workers at the Benton Harbor restaurant. Erica will receive more than $9,000 in back pay and damages.

Today, Erica has a new job serving at a nearby restaurant. She is planning to use her back wages to continue to take care of her mom, niece and nephew, and is soon hoping to boost her skills by enrolling in college.

“I appreciate the Department of Labor and its investigators so much,” she said. “They did a really great job finding out what was going on there and holding the management accountable for correctly paying people. I am glad that my cooperation helped me and my co-workers receive the money we’ve earned.”

If you have questions about your company’s pay practices, or you are an employer who wants to be sure you are complying with the law, learn more on the Wage and Hour Division’s website or by calling 1-866-4-US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243). You also can check to see if back wages are being held for you as the result of an investigation using the online tool, Workers Owed Wages.

Editor’s note: The DOL Working for You series highlights the Labor Department’s programs in action. View other posts in the series here.

Rhonda Burke is a public affairs specialist for the department in Chicago.

 

Si Pagar Para Poder Trabajar No Le Suena Bien Es Porque No Lo Es

Por Rhonda Burke

Erica Campbell sabía que algo raro estaba pasando cuando una nueva gerencia empezó a encargarse del restaurante de panqueques de Benton Harbor, en Michigan, donde llevaba trabajado varios años como mesera.

El restaurante empezó a exigir a los meseros que le dieran $2 por hora de sus propinas a pesar de que no había un acuerdo previamente establecido sobre reparto de propinas. Después de hablar de este asunto con los encargados, Erica empezó a notar que no le estaban tocando muchas mesas durante sus jornadas, y vio como sus ingresos empezaron a bajar.

“Yo siempre hacia buen billete en propinas y me gustaba mi trabajo”, dijo. “La cosa se me puso bien difícil porque mi mamá, mi sobrina y mi sobrino dependen de mí y mantenerles se me estaba poniendo muy complicado”.

Después de cooperar con la División de Horas y Salarios en una investigación al restaurante en el 2012, a Erica la despidieron por mascar chicle, una regla que nunca antes había oído mencionar.

Durante la investigación, la División de Horas y Salarios descubrió que la exigencia sobre reparto de propinas se estaba haciendo en los dos populares restaurantes de Sophia’s House of Pancakes de Kalamazoo y Benton Harbor. Sin embargo, la Ley de Normas Razonables de Trabajo (FLSA, por sus siglas en inglés) establece que los dueños de las propinas son los empleados. En un acuerdo de reparto válido, los empleadores pueden recoger propinas pero sólo si los empleados han sido previamente notificados del acuerdo y si las propinas son redistribuidas por el empleador a los trabajadores elegibles y no se usan para ningún otro propósito.

La división también halló a los restaurantes en violación de los requerimientos de la FLSA sobre salario mínimo, sobretiempo, mantenimiento de registros y anti-represalias.

Al final, el Departamento de Trabajo fue capaz de obtener una sentencia a favor de los trabajadores. La compañía ha sido ordenada a pagar $122.500 en salarios atrasados y $122.500 en compensación por daños y perjuicios a 73 empleados del restaurante en Kalamazoo y a 45 del de Benton Harbor. Erica recibirá más de $9.000 en salarios atrasados y compensación por daños.

Erica tiene hoy día un nuevo trabajo sirviendo en un restaurante cercano. Ella planea que ha recuperado en salarios no pagados y compensación para seguir cuidando a su mama y sus sobrinos, y próximamente confía en dar un fuerte empujón a sus habilidades inscribiéndose en la universidad.

“Aprecio muchísimo al Departamento de Trabajo y a sus investigadores”, dijo, “Verdaderamente hicieron un gran trabajo para descubrir lo que allí estaba pasando y para hacer que la administración se responsabilizara de pagar correctamente. Me alegro de que mi cooperación me ayudara a mí y a mis compañeros de trabajo a recibir el dinero por el que trabajamos”.

Si tienes preguntas sobre las prácticas de pago en tu empresa, o eres empleador y quieres estar seguro de que estás cumpliendo con la ley, puedes visitar el sitio web de la División de Horas y Salarios o llamar al 1-866-4-US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243). También puedes comprobar si hay salarios atrasados que te pertenecen como resultado de investigaciones de la división mediante el uso de la herramienta en línea Salarios Adeudados a los Trabajadores.

Nota del editor: La serie DOL Working for You pone de relieve programas en acción del Departamento de Trabajo. Ver otros mensajes de la serie aquí.

Rhonda Burke es especialista en información pública del Departamento de Trabajo en Chicago.


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Comments

Good news story here! Happy for the employees.

Wow that is fantastic. Thank you DOL for your service to those workers. Our DOL here in Alaska truly cares for workers as well. This story will hopefully inspire other workers to reach out and ask questions. Good job Erica!!

Thank God she(Erica) was able to recover her wages that was due to her!

Good for her! It is sad to think of how many employees are working under conditions such as these and they're probably not aware it is wrong OR they are afraid of retaliation which is exactly what happened to this employee.

Many years ago, I waitressed while I was in school, and the waitresses were made to hand over their tips to be split with the busboys. I long suspected that the busboys, who happened to be illegal immigrants and who were 10 and 12 years old at the time, were not getting the tip money either. How many laws did the owners violate? Child labor, undocumented workers, FSLA violations. Oh, and there were roaches all over the kitchen, too. Thankfully, they went out of business in a couple months after I was hired. People like that don't deserve to own a business. I wish I knew then what I know now about how to get help.

I never tip on my credit card. I write cash where the tip is listed on the bill, and tip the servers with cash so their tips will not be stolen by the restaurants' owners later on.

A restaurant in my area requires servers, in their spare moments, to clean windows, work at the carry-out window, tidy up outside and do other housekeeping duties for which they are not paid.

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