How the restaurant industry normalizes wage theft

“If they’re clocked in before they’re scheduled to work, then you don’t have to pay them.” This is a tip Eddie Wu, owner and chef at Cook St. Paul, received from another local chef de cuisine from a well-known Minneapolis restaurant. “In a proud way, they were [explaining] how many hours they were able to shave off their payroll and hedge it,” said Wu. 

Wage theft occurs when workers don’t receive their legally or contractually agreed upon wages. This could be non-payment of overtime, paying below the minimum wage, not paying for all hours worked, requiring off-the-clock work, stealing or manipulating tip payouts or not paying an employee a final check. 

This type of theft within the foodservice industry can be obvious, like not paying overtime wages, but there are quieter tactics and loopholes that unscrupulous owners or managers take advantage of, often going unnoticed by workers. 

The most recent compliance sweep conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division from 2010-2012 that within nearly 9,000 full-service restaurants, approximately 84 percent of restaurants had at least one violation. This resulted in the department’s recovering approximately $57 million in back wages for about 82,000 workers. Continue Reading