Can a restaurant force a waitress to pay the tab if a table skips?

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Can a restaurant force a waitress to pay the tab if a table skips?

My sister is a waitress, working at a pizza place in Tempe, Arizona. She had a table walk out from the un-fenced seating area, after racking up a bill approximating 45 including both food and drinks. The owner of the restaurant, seeing the tab, declared that my sister had to cover that tab. Is this right? If not, is there something that either she can do or that I can do for her to help set this right?

Asked on February 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In a situation such as this, known as "dine and dash". it is illegal for an employer to deduct from a worker's wage for any amount owed by a customer who has skipped out on their check. Minimum wage requirements and other wage and hour laws ensure full pay for hours worked and make it illegal for an employer to deduct pay from a given hourly wage for these types of purposes. That having been said, if the employee previously signed any agreement that allows for tsuch a deduction, then that document will control.
 
If you are a waiter, waitress, or other tip-earning employee and your employer has deducted money from your salary without permission based on a customer leaving without paying, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Likewise, employers should also consult with an attorney before accidentally making a policy that could be in violation of the labor law.
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