Can a restaurant make a server pay a tab if the customer’s credit card company disputes the charge?

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Can a restaurant make a server pay a tab if the customer’s credit card company disputes the charge?

My friend works as a cocktail server. A customer came in and ran up a $600 bar tab. She ran his tab properly and filled out everything correctly. The costumer totaled and signed his slip as well. Now his credit card company is disputing the charges. And her boss is screaming at her telling her she has to pay the $600 amount because the owner won’t take the loss. She has a new born baby and cannot afford to pay this. Can he really hold her responsible for this amount even though she did nothing wrong? He also told her if she didn’t pay it he would fire her.

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

These are two different issues:

1) Can your friend be fired? Yes...if she does not have an employment contract, she is almost certainly an "employee at will," which means she  could be fired at any time, for any reason, or even no reason at all (that is, if the employer wants to fire her, he doesn't need any other reason than that). Therefore, if the employer chooses to fire her, he can.

2) Does she have to pay? If she refuses to pay (and is willing to risk being fired), to make her pay, the owner would have to sue her and prove that either she was negligent (unreasonably careless) or acted intentionally wrongfully.


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