If you have ever been a waiter or waitress at a popular restaurant, then you know it’s a demanding job. Not only are you on your feet, but often one most deal with the public and their attitudes, just to get a decent tip. A server spends long hours that include preparing to open as well as closing the restaurant for business. But when it comes to getting a check, many are hit with charges from their employer that had nothing to do with their service. That is part of the problem for a group of employees who worked at rapper T.I.’s Atlanta restaurant, SCALES 925.
At least 12 employees are suing T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris; and his business partner, Charles Hughes, and the restaurant managing group. The lawsuit cites the Fair Labor Standards Act and employees claim that they were not paid for services rendered. According to court documents, the employees named are Chrysten Wright, Monique Simms, Kurel Scott, Ongeli McMillan, Whitley Middleton, Sammy Davis, Jenair Perry, Millan Rodrigo, Shomari Davis, Keandra Daniels, DeMarquis Denson, and Cashara Tate.
A portion of the legal filing states:
“Hughes used Scales LLC to create bank accounts for payroll. However, Hughes would deposit money from SCALES 925 into his personal account causing payroll checks to bounce … Hughes has made fraudulent statements to restaurant employees concerning the hours the employees worked at SCALES 925. For example, Hughes used a time and billing software call ALOHA for keeping track of employee hours. The software would delete hours or not keep track of hours exceeding 40 hours per week. Employees complained to Hughes but were told it was nothing he could do. Hughes also implemented the time and billing software in such a way that it caused employees to claim $35 in tips when the employees did not, in fact, make $35 in tips. Employees were also coerced to work off the clock for three hours before they were allowed to go home.”
The lawsuit maintains that “Harris and Hughes have the following joint authority at the restaurant: (1) the power to determine the pay rates or the methods of payment of the employees; and (2) the right, directly or indirectly, to hire, fire, or modify the employment conditions of the workers.”
Shockingly, the employees also claimed the restaurant would take money claiming to pay busboy staff but these staff members were never paid. It is common for restaurant servers to have to payout to the bar staff and bus staff as part of their expenses. The hourly wage for wait staff is low but it is supposed to be offset by tips. In many cases, the total amount of a bill is used to estimate a server’s tip percentage (usually 15 percent). That amount is then added to the server’s hourly wage total to determine the paycheck amount. The plaintiffs in the case are suing for various amounts of back pay from the restaurant and its management.