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Recent allegations show how tipped workers can face wage theft

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Employment Law |

People in Oregon’s service industry rely on tips as a major part of their income. Waiting tables and similar jobs help people earn a good wage while having time for other pursuits. Still, these workers are vulnerable to wage theft. Legislators have passed laws to put a stop to practices like tip pooling. Unfortunately, these unfair practices still happen.

A recent case involving a prominent hotel and bar led to the U.S. Department of Labor telling employees how their rights were being violated. People who receive tips as part of their job should be aware of ways in which they could be subjected to wrongdoing and take steps to ensure they are treated according to the law.

Workers at McMenamins might have been deprived of tips

The Department of Labor investigated the McMenamins hotel and bar chain in Oregon and found that tipped employees were obligated to share tips. This violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is believed to have occurred between May of 2019 through October 2022, but the investigation is ongoing to see if it happened at other times.

In the past, many establishments had a policy of pooling tips. Despite it being outlawed, it can still occur with unsuspecting workers losing income because of it. According to its estimates, the DOL believes that around $800,000 might have been kept from McMenamins workers.

To rectify the problem, the DOL contacted the employer to try and get them to pay their employees what they were owed. The employer refused. The DOL can only refer the case to the courts so the workers can be paid.

For its part, McMenamins denies the allegations and asserts that it has adhered to state law saying that the tip pooling was appropriate for employees who are not servers but are working as hosts and in other roles. This case is not one in which the DOL can file a lawsuit, so employees must consider their legal options.

All workers should know their employee rights

Employment law encompasses many areas. In recent years, steps have been taken to try and reduce harassment, protect workers from discrimination, put guardrails in place so workers have the chance to fight back against wrongful termination and make sure workers get their full wages.

Workers are often fearful of losing the job if they speak out or do not even know what can be done to get their rightful wages. The McMenamins case is an example of what can happen in the service industry. Those who believe they were deprived of wages they were supposed to receive should know how to make sure they get what they are owed.


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