Winebrake & Santillo Obtains Ruling in Favor of Servers Alleging That Their Employer Made Improper Deductions From Tip Pool

On April 24, 2015, Lackawanna County County Court of Common Pleas Judge Terrence R. Nealon overruled preliminary objections from Defendant Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group Inc., which owns and operates 20 Red Robin restaurants in central and eastern Pennsylvania, to a proposed class action brought on behalf of Servers represented by Winebrake & Santillo. A copy of the Court’s order is available here. The Plaintiffs allege that the company violated the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act by improperly allowing expediters (or “Expos”) who did not have regular and direct customer interaction to participate and receive a portion of the the servers’ tips that were part of the “tip pool.”

Attorney Pete Winebrake was quoted in a Law360 article as saying: “Too many restaurants are using servers’ tips to subsidize the compensation paid to back-of-the house employees. Judge Nealon’s decision makes it clear that such practices are illegal under Pennsylvania law as well as the [Fair Labor Standards Act].”

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