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Report: South Carolina Restaurant Faces Unpaid Wage Lawsuit

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Editors Note: The original article was posted on June 9, 2015 by The State – South Carolina. 

Former employees of Spartanburg restaurant Wild Wing Cafe have filed a lawsuit against the restaurant claiming that they were withheld wages through failure to meet minimum and overtime wage standards, according to The State.

The lawsuit has taken the form of a class action lawsuit on the federal level seeking to receive compensation for the wages that were withheld from plaintiffs during their employment.

Allegations include failure to pay servers minimum wage for hours worked, manipulating hours worked to avoid paying overtime wages, and refusing to pay all wages owed to workers. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that plaintiffs were paid between $2.13 and $5 an hour with the expectation that tips would bring their compensation in line with minimum wage.

This policy was applied to tipped and non-tipped employees indiscriminately, with all employees entered into a company mandated tip pool which included expeditors. Expeditors organize customer food orders, however, their legal definition defines them as “forbidden from receiving tips directly from other tipped employees.”

By including expeditors in required tip pools, Wild Wing Cafe cannot “avail themselves of the tip credit provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” With the restaurant no longer being eligible for tip credit provisions, all employees must be paid the state minimum wage regardless of their typical legal “tipped employee” status.

Additionally, Wild Wing Cafe also manipulated overtime rates for servers who worked more than 40 hours per week. This led to servers not being paid the overtime wage of 1.5 times their standard rate.

With filing attorney John Reckenbeil defining the situation as, “about corporate greed,” the lawsuit is seeking an injunction against Wild Wing from these practices as well as awards for unpaid wage compensation.

As has become all too common with major employers, it would appear that the company was seeking to exploit employees who were not fully aware of their legal rights. These unaware employees are typically young people and college students who do not have significant work experience and may be timid to come forward with possible labor violations.

South Carolina Labor Laws Commonly Violated

Unlike many states, South Carolina does not have have its own state enforced minimum wage. In failing to have a state minimum wage, most labor regulations that apply to state workers are defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other federal labor laws.

With no state minimum wage, South Carolina workers are subjected to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour unless otherwise defined as an exempt employee under federal labor laws.

However, the minimum wage is one of the most commonly violated labor laws in place as some employers have the ability to discretely  underpay their employees with little chance of detection unless employees self report the violation.

Additionally, FLSA overtime wage regulations are also routinely violated by employers for the same reason minimum wage regulations are violated.

When workers work over 40 hours in a 7-day work week, they are entitled to 150% of their standard wage rate for all hours worked above 40. For example, a South Carolina minimum wage worker who works above 40 hours in one week should receive $10.88 per hour for all overtime work.

Employers frequently manipulate time sheets or neglect to chart work duties in order to avoid paying their employees the appropriate overtime wage rate. In doing so, employers violate state and federal laws making them susceptible to being named as defendants by lawsuits filed on behalf of their wronged employees.

If a current or past employer failed to properly compensate you for hours work through minimum or overtime wage violations, you may be eligible to pursue legal action against them. Legal action often result in the plaintiff being awarded damages for previously withheld wages, call (855) 754-2795 today to determine if you are eligible to pursue an unpaid wage lawsuit.

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