United Department of Labor Sues Restaurant for, among other things, Misclassifying Workers as Independent Contractors 

The United States Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against a restaurant alleging that, among other things, the restaurant misclassified workers as independent contractors.

Investigation findings:On Dec. 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a complaint in federal court alleging Entre Nous French Bistro and owners Jean-Christophe Febbrari and Mathias Wakrat knowingly and willfully withheld a portion of employee earned tips and used them to fund business expenses.

Aninvestigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the Pasadena restaurant collected credit card and cash tips from customers, automatically deposited them in the employer’s business account and distributed only a portion of the tips to servers, food runners, waiters, hosts and bartenders through a Zelle wire transfer on a weekly basis. The investigation also revealed the restaurant misclassified several employees as independent contractors and did not keep accurate pay records.

The department seeks to recover approximately $250,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for 18 employees. The department is also asking the court to issue an injunction forbidding Entre Nous French Bistro and owners from future violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Quote: “Illegal practices by restaurant employers such as Entre Nous French Bistro in Pasadena hurt employees and also law-abiding employers who face unfair competition due to the stealing of tips by unscrupulous employers,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco. “Customers expect — and the law requires — that tips go to employees, not their employer. We seek to recover the wages owed, enjoin this company from future violations and protect the significant public interest at stake.”

BackgroundLearn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. You can find other information on the agency’s website if you think you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor, or want to know how to file an online complaint. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.

Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – also available in Spanish –to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

United States Department of Labor v. 2 Poto Inc., d/b/a Entre Nous French Bistro et al

Source: US Department of Labor files suit seeking approximately $500K for 18 employees of Pasadena restaurant that illegally kept portion of their tips | U.S. Department of Labor

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