Can a manager at a resturaunt force servers to pay out of their tips for a check that was comped?

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Can a manager at a resturaunt force servers to pay out of their tips for a check that was comped?

After a table complained to a manager that some of the employees in the restaurant were talking loudly during their meal, the manager decided to comp the entire bill. The the manager then told each employee in the restaurant they had to spit the price of the check between them and pay for it. While not every employee was involved in the incident they were all told to pay up. Most of them complied because they were threatened with their job. Is this legal, and if not what can be done to get the employees money back?

Asked on July 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there is an employee handbook for the restaurant where the incident happened, you need to read the handbook to see if there is any mention about employees having to pay for a meal that the manager decided to give "gratis" to a customer. I doubt there is any mention of such a situation.

Even if there was mention, I doubt what the manager did was proper or legal. Not only were employees  involved in talking loudly forced to pay for the meal, those who were not involved alos had to contribute.

A complaint with the labor department in your community is in order. Threatening an employee with his or her job if money was not paid by them for the free meal for the customer was wrong by the manager.

The manager should have issued a written disciplinary warning to the offending employees and put the warning in their employee file and had the restaurant "comp" the meal as a cost of doing business.


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