Pennsylvania restaurant took server tips to pay busser salaries: Fed

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Empire Diner in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Authorities say the restaurant’s owner and manager violated federal labor laws. Now the company is liable for more than $1.35 million in back wages and damages.

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A Pennsylvania restaurant forced its servers to give up some of their tips, then the money was used to pay bus wages, authorities said. It was one of several labor violations found during a federal investigation into the restaurant.

Now Musluoglu Inc., which operates as Empire Diner, and its owner and director are liable for more than $1.35 million in back wages and damages to 107 waiters and employees of kitchen, according to a Sept. 14 press release from the U.S. Department of Labor. .

The Aug. 18 federal ruling came after a five-day trial of a lawsuit filed in 2018. Prosecutors said Empire Diner, owner Ihsan Gunaydin and manager Engin Gunaydin ran an illegal tip pool.

The Philadelphia-based Department of Labor’s wage and hour division said the Lansdowne restaurant also violated other laws of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including minimum wage, overtime, and labor provisions. record keeping.

Specifically, authorities said the company unlawfully:

  • Oblige the waiters to give 10 to 15% of their tips to pay the wages of the busseurs
  • Told employees to lie about their illegal pay practices, interfering with a federal investigation
  • Did not pay overtime to kitchen workers who worked more than 40 hours per week
  • Failed to pay servers the correct overtime wages when they worked more than 40 hours per week.

The defense attorney representing Empire Diner and the Gunaydins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Sept. 14.

“Tip workers in the food service industry rely on their hard-earned tips to make ends meet. By misappropriating a portion of these tips, restaurant employers are violating federal labor laws and harming workers and their families,” Jessica Looman, senior assistant administrator of wages and hours, said in a statement. “This important and successful litigation demonstrates the Department of Labor’s commitment to protecting the country’s essential workers.”

In addition to back wages of $1.35 million and liquidated damages for which the company is held liable, the employer was awarded a civil penalty of $47,620 “due to the deliberate nature of the violations”, according to the press release.

Lansdowne is part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy national real-time reporter based in Kansas. She is an alumnus of agricultural communication and journalism at Kansas State University.

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