Hundreds of Roy’s Restaurant servers were forced to share tips and now they’re getting back the money they were owed.
The U.S. Dept. of Labor says the restaurant required the servers to pay a portion of their tips to the kitchen staff, which violates the wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Roy’s must now return more than $136,761 in tips and pay another $88,424 in back wages to 326 of its servers.
It’s not a new law, but according to the labor department, it is an ongoing problem, and restaurants that aren’t aware of it will have to pay it all back.
The U.S. Dept. of Labor says it happened at all six Roy’s Restaurant locations in Hawaii for two years starting in August 2011. Because Roy’s pays its tipped workers like foodservers below minimum wage, the company cannot force the tipped workers to share their tips with non-tipped workers, like the kitchen staff, who already make more than the minimum wage.
“The reason they’re allowed to pay less than the actual minimum wage is that it’s understood that the tips that they’re actually receiving will be bring them to or over the minimum wage,” says Terence Trotter, Hawaii District Director of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department says management at Roy’s wasn’t even aware that they were doing anything wrong and fully cooperated with the investigation.
“We’re visiting with employers and we are finding problems in this particular area so we are raising awareness of it,” Trotter said.
Management at Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii Kai was not available for comment Friday.
In most cases, foodservers do share their tips with others, but forcing them to do it when they’re paid below minimum wage makes it illegal.
Those who work for tips point out that that is essentially how they make their living. “Our tips is a huge amount of our income because our paycheck is much less,” said server Kelsey Takehara.
The labor department says most of the tipped workers have been paid out. Those who were working at Roy’s during that time period can still claim their share of the payment with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Tipped workers who are being forced to share their tips with non-tipped workers are also asked to report it to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage & Hour Division in Hawaii at (808) 541-1361. All complaints are handled confidentially.