19th Oct 2016
Kimberly Knox and Kayla Bratcher worked as bartenders and servers at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Avon, Indiana. As is commonly the case with restaurant service employees, Ms. Knox and Ms. Bratcher were paid via a tip credit that resulted in them receiving $2.13/hour from their employer with the remainder of their wages coming via earned tips.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, in order for the aforementioned tip credit arrangement to be lawful, the employee must: (1) be engaged in an occupation in which she customarily and regularly receives more than $30.00 a month in tips; (2) be informed of the tip credit wage provisions; (3) receive an additional amount on account of the tips equal to any difference between the tip-credit wage and the mandatory minimum wage; and (4) retain all the tips she receives as a tipped employee. Furthermore, the United States Department of Labor has stated, “where the facts indicate that specific employees are routinely assigned to maintenance, or that tipped employees spend a substantial amount of time (in excess of 20 percent) performing general preparation work or maintenance, no tip credit may be taken for the time spent in such duties.” Such situations are commonly referred to as “dual jobs.”
In the case of Ms. Knox and Ms. Bratcher, they alleged that they spent hours before, during, and after their shifts performing non-tipped work, including: being required to arrive at the restaurant approximately an hour before it opened to perform opening duties, which included placing chairs at tables, making tea, filling ice bins, preparing “sani” buckets, screwing nozzles into soda machines, and portioning ranch and blue cheese dressing. After their morning shifts ended, they claimed they were required to perform “out tasks, ” including: restocking the ice bins, rolling silverware, washing food platters, restocking table caddies, sweeping the floors, portioning more ranch and blue cheese dressings, cleaning trash cans, and sifting through trash bins to locate any silverware which may have been thrown away during the prior shift. When they worked the evening shifts, they were required to stay at the restaurant to perform closing duties such as: wiping down tables, removing nozzles from soda machines, placing chairs on top of tables, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping and deck scrubbing the floors, cleaning the tea urns, washing food platters, bowls, and silverware, rolling the clean silverware, dumping the trash, cleaning trash cans, and checking for accidentally disposed of silverware. During their shifts, they were required to perform additional work between the times they were serving customers, including: washing dirty silverware and food platters,