Is it legal for a restaurant to make their servers pay for mistakes that they made?

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Is it legal for a restaurant to make their servers pay for mistakes that they made?

For example, a server rings in a steak dinner which is then prepared by the kitchen. The server notices after the kitchen made the food that it was supposed to be chicken. Can the restaurant then require the server to pay for the mistake?

Asked on June 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

They can ask the server to pay. They cannot simply take the money from his or her wages or tips if he or she will not: the wage-and-hour laws prohibit that. However, they can suspend, cut the hours of, give less valuable tables or shifts to, or even terminate a server who costs them money by making mistakes and refuses to pay those costs. That is because employment in this country is "employment at will" and an employee may be disciplined, demoted, terminated, etc. at any time, for any reason.


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