What to do if my employer is not paying me or any of my co-workers?

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What to do if my employer is not paying me or any of my co-workers?

I am a server in a restaurant. Aside from the owner’s frequent verbal mistreatment of employees without cause, the restaurant claims to the IRS that it pays its servers $2.63 an hour (as per state law) and that they receive 18% tips. While servers receive a paycheck every week, it is for $0, and as it is located in a popular tourist area, among other reasons, it is rare for them to receive 18% from each table. Therefore, the owner’s claims to the IRS result in the servers having to pay a much higher tax than what would be appropriate, on top of already not receiving a wage.

Asked on September 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It's against the law to not pay employees or to underpay employees, which also incoudes taking more of a tip credit than is justified by the facts (it's also against the law, obviously, to lie to the IRS). You have two options, which are not mutually exclusive--that is, you can try them both:

1) You can contact your state or the federal Department of Labor to report a violation of the wage and hours laws; they may investigage and take action on your behalf.

2) You--either individually or together with your similarly underpaid coworkers--can retain an employment law attorney to bring a lawsuit against your employer.

Note that the verbal mistreatment is irrelevant: the important issue is the underpayment. Good luck.


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