A federal lawsuit has recovered $225,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for workers of the Grand Woods Lodge in Grand Rapids. The employees' claims were that management required servers and bartenders to share their tips with managers, pay tips to kitchen staff, and clean the restaurant for hours after their shift without pay for those hours spent cleaning. Bos & Glazier filed suit on the behalf of the employee who first brought these concerns to light. Along with the lead plaintiff, twenty seven other servers and bartenders joined the suit. Over 100 employees were eligible to opt in but many declined to respond to efforts to contact them.
Customer tips to restaurant staff for good service are the property of the worker who receives them. While management can create a tip pool, if workers are paid less than minimum wage, the tip pool cannot include untipped workers or management. Any attempt by management to misuse a portion of these tips violates tipped workers' wage rights. It goes without saying that hourly employees must be paid for all hours worked, whether cleaning or waiting on customers.
This case began in 2019, but due to the delays that the COVID pandemic brought to all aspects of society, the settlement was not approved by the court until June 2022. Defendants 77 Grandville Inc (Grand Woods Lounge), Kris Elliott, and Dax Hylarides deny that there were any violations of wage laws and deny any liability in this matter. The Court approved the settlement by the parties and found the amount received by the servers and bartenders to be “fair and reasonable.” The aggrieved employees should receive their back wages this week. The individual recoveries range widely, but the average amount of back wages recovered was nearly $5,000.
The case filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, is captioned Hodges v. 77 Grandville, Inc., Kris Elliott, and Dax Hylarides, Case No. 1:19-cv-81.