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Reno's Sports Bar settles lawsuit for alleged illegal tip pooling

Posted: 4:15 PM, Aug 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-14 15:40:03Z

 A Lansing area sports bar accused of violating labor laws has settled a lawsuit with more than 60 former workers.

Reno's Sports Bar and Grill, which has locations in East Lansing, North Lansing and West Lansing, agreed to settle for $140,000 in February of 2018.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of two former servers and bartenders in July of 2016 accuses the restaurant chain of forcing servers and bartenders to share their tips with cooks, despite paying them an hourly rate below the standard minimum wage. The servers were each making $3.10 per hour, plus tips.

According to the lawsuit, the tip-pooling policy violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, because cooks are not "employees who customarily and regularly receive tips." Under the law, employers can only pay tipped workers under the standard minimum wage if they are allowed to keep all of their tips, or share them with other tipped employees.

Attorneys argue the policy cost servers approximately $20-$40 each shift.

In court filings, attorney's for Reno's said the restaurant chain had a tip pooling procedure 'to encourage all staff to work together as a team,' which ended on August 4, 2015. Wait staff were required to pool three percent of their total sales from their tips at the end of the shift with other employees, which included bartenders, food runners, cooks, table bussers, and front of the house staff. Attorneys argued all employees were made fully aware of the tip pooling policy. They said the two servers were paid at least minimum wage, and generally had an income exceeding it.

Reno's declined to comment when reached on Monday.