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News Thu Feb 04 2010
According to Veronica Avila of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of Chicago, four restaurant workers of Ole Ole restaurant is filing a federal lawsuit against their employer today. The employees, who are members of the ROC, are seeking back wages and assurance that the swanky Andersonville restaurant will comply with the law, guaranteeing that the tips are paid to the workers and proper compensation is made for overtime work.
The press release from ROC includes some outrageous details: waiters were not paid hourly and overtime wages, working only for tips (which in itself is illegal); even these tips weren't always distributed to the waiters, amounting to more than $100,000 in total; cooks worked for 50 to 60 hours a week but were paid for much less, if at all; minority workers faced nasty name-calling based on national origin. The workers are represented by attorneys at Working Hands Legal Clinic, an organization that provides no-cost legal representation for low wage workers in the Chicago metropolitan area.
According to a post in Working in These Times, the owners of the restaurant agreed to a negotiation in late December, but as things look today, the negotiation didn't go as the workers hoped. There is a demonstration planned later this evening, in front of the restaurant, located at 5413 N. Clark Street.
Although this may be an extreme case in terms of the amount of misappropriation, tip misappropriation is apparently not rare at all in restaurant industry. To make sure that your servers get what they deserve, leave your tips in cash, even when you use a credit card to pay for the meal. (I know we don't do this often enough!)