China Grill, Prime One Twelve Latest to Be Sued by Ex-Employees for Tip Skimming
|China Grill in South Beach is in hot water over a recent lawsuit|
According to two lawsuits filed earlier this summer, fancy South Beach restaurants China Grill and Prime One Twelve are stiffing their own servers out of thousands in wages and tips.
The lawsuits are just the tip of the iceberg, however, when it comes to Miami restaurants accused of stealing from their servers, as New Times will explain in an investigative article out later today.
Lawyers for the restaurants could not be reached for comment, but both establishments have denied the accusations in court.
Two former waiters are suing China Grill for more than $15,000 of damages each, according to court documents filed in U.S. federal court in June. The lawsuit alleges the Washington Ave. restaurant underpaid its waiters, forced them to share tips with employees that shouldn't have received them, and skimmed those tips with various fees.
Prime One Twelve stands accused of similarly bilking a "food runner," according to another lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade court in June. The suit alleges the Ocean Drive restaurant "failed to pay... tipped employees for all of their actual work time in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act."
Dozens of such lawsuits are filed each year in Miami, "the worst city in the U.S. when it comes to wage theft," according to labor lawyer Lawrence McGuinness. But for the plaintiffs, even filing such complaints can be risky.
"I don't want to get blackballed," says one former China Grill waitress who asked to remain anonymous when contacted by New Times. "If you put my name out there, people are not going to want to hire me ever again."
Check our back this afternoon for more on TipGate 2010.