Massachusetts IHOP owner fined $100K for forcing staff to pay when patrons walked out on the check
The owner of an IHOP in West Springfield, Mass., will pay $100,000 to settle charges of abusing labor law, including billing waitstaff for breaks they didn’t take and meals they didn’t eat, and forcing them to pay for the meals of diners who skipped out on the check.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the settlement with Robert Max Evans and RME Enterprises Friday.
Coakley noted that wait staff were required to pay from their tips the full meal costs of customers who left without paying their bills, were required to share their tips with non-wait staff, and were required to pay from their wages the full meal costs of any meals for which a mistake was alleged to have been made. Employees were also required to pay from their wages for broken dishware, and were subject to meal deductions from their wages when no meals were eaten.
“Consent was not given generally,” for the wage deductions, Coakley said in the release. “Employees’ work time, and thus wages, were ‘shaved’ to account for alleged meal break time, when meal breaks were not taken generally and at times when employees specifically and affirmatively noted they took no break.”
When one employee decided to stand up and refused to pay for the meal of a customer who walked out, she was fired on the spot, Coakley said.
The settlement will give 174 workers restitution ranging from $40 to more than $1,700, depending upon their length of service at that IHOP.