Another Restaurant Chain Accused of Wage Theft

Uno Pizzeria & Grill, started in Chicago and famous for its "Chicago Style" pizza, is yet another restaurant chain to be accused of wage theft by its employees. The Queens, New York location is being accused by its wait staff of several FLSA violations, including violations of the minimum wage requirement, overtime requirement, tip-credit notice requirement, and the 80/20 rule of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Accusations Raised in the Uno Pizzeria Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, the wait staff was required to clock out at the end of their scheduled shift, but then required to work as long as two hours more, after clocking out. However, the wage statements issued by Uno Pizzeria did not reflect these off-the-clock hours. The restaurant is also accused of requiring the wait staff to perform non-tipped activities, such as moving heavy boxes, preparing food, wiping the restaurant walls, and cleaning the kitchen, for 20% or more of their workday. Attorneys for the Uno employees claim that, because the wait staff engaged in those non-tipped activities, Uno was required to pay them the full minimum wage of $8.75, rather than the tipped minimum wage of $5 per hour.

Overtime Pay Requirements

Unless specifically exempted, employees who are covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours during any workweek, at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rate of pay. By requiring Uno employees to continue to work after their shifts, the restaurant was able to avoid paying overtime.

Requirements Involving Tipped Employees

A "tipped employee" is one who "customarily and regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips." The tips they receive are the property of the employee, and the employer is prohibited from using an employee's tips for any reason other than as a credit against its minimum wage obligation. They can also be used in furtherance of a valid tip pool. This means that employers are allowed to take a tip credit, for the tips actually received, toward its minimum wage obligation, equal to the difference between the required cash wage of at least $2.13, and the federal minimum wage.

Violations of the 80/20 Rule

It has become more and more common for restaurant owners to require tipped employees to perform duties that should be done by a non-tipped employee, who is being paid a normal hourly wage. This may be a violation of what is known as the 80/20 rule. While employers are allowed to require wait staff to perform "side work," it must consist of no more than 20% of that employee's workload. If the tipped employee spends more than 20% of their time on side work, the employee must be paid the full minimum wage for the side work that exceeds 20% of their workday.

If you feel you have been the victim of wage theft, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.

Categories: Wage Theft
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