NEW YORK — The café featured in the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks film “You’ve Got Mail,” Café Lalo, is now facing a putative class action overtime pay lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York state minimum wage law related to the sharing of tips and failure to pay overtime wages. In addition to the wage violation claims, the plaintiffs have also brought accusations of sexual harassment of its wait staff against one of the café’s de facto managers.
The Wait Staff Claim
Thirteen current and former waitresses are claiming they were properly compensated at the tipped minimum wage, but they were improperly required to share their tips with non-tipped employees. Allegedly management withheld a significant portion of their tips and distributed those tips to non-tipped dishwashers, cooks, baristas, and the owners. Additionally in their tip violation claim, they allege that they did not receive overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week. Beyond the wage violations, the waitresses have included a claim against a de facto manager who allegedly used the café as a personal dating service and verbally and physically abused waitresses who rejected his advances. The harassment also allegedly affected when the waitresses were allowed to take their meal breaks, which is likely an additional labor law violation.
The café claims it complied with both state and federal minimum wage laws. The café did admit to forcing its wait staff to share tips with baristas. The position of baristas is often considered to be a tipped position. But in this case, the baristas were de facto managers, which should have prevented them from participating in a tip pool.
Tipped Employees & Overtime
Even hourly employees receiving tipped minimum wage are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. If an employer takes a tip credit, then the tipped employee’s overtime wages will be calculated based on full $7.25 minimum wage or the state minimum wage, whichever is higher. Tipped employees must earn at least full minimum wage pay when tips and their hourly pay are combined, or the employer has to make up the difference. Tip credit is when an employer pays the tipped minimum wage, at least $2.13 an hour, and gets credit for the tips the employee earns to reach full minimum wage. While a tipped employee’s hourly rate may be at the tipped minimum wage rate, once overtime is earned that hourly overtime pay is based on the full $7.25 minimum wage.
Tipped employees face many wage challenges from forced illegal tip sharing to denied or improper overtime wages. Experienced overtime pay lawyers represent and advocate for the rights of tipped employees to proper wages. Contact us today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.