Carbondale cafe ordered to pay more than $98K to workers for back wages, damages

Court Gavel (Source: Pexels)
Court Gavel (Source: Pexels)

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KBSI) – A Carbondale café has been ordered to pay 31 workers $98,400 in back wages and damages for operating an illegal tip pool, almost six months after a jury awarded the workers $4,900, 10 percent of their back wages, in what the department alleged was an error based on the jury’s instructions and how they interpreted the evidence at trial.

The U.S. Department of Labor obtained a federal court order requiring the Longbranch Café and Bakery to pay the 31 workers.

Judge Staci M. Yandle of the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Illinois in Carbondale issued a memorandum and order on Jan. 13 amending the jury’s July 2022 award.

The court responded to a motion made by the department to alter the judgment in light of the error. The $98,400 award is in addition to the $290 in back wages and damages already awarded by the court on summary judgment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Dayemi Organization, operating as Longbranch Café and Bakery, and owner Elaine Ramsyer Greenberg must pay $49,200 in back wages and an equal amount in liquated damages.

Investigators reviewed the company’s payroll records from February 2018 through February 2020. They determined the company and Greenberg violated federal law when they required baristas and servers to share tips with cooks and dishwashers, who do not normally receive tips.

During the trial, the department established servers and baristas placed all tips received during a shift into a tip jar. At each shift’s end, the company distributed money in the tip jar to employees who worked that shift with 90 percent divided between the servers and baristas, 5 percent to cooks and 5 percent to dishwashers. Back wages were determined by examining the tip credit the employer took for the pay periods audited, according to the Department of Labor.

The jury rendered a verdict finding that the company and Greenberg required servers and baristas to give a portion of their tips to the non-tipped dishwashers and cooks that violated the tip provisions and federal minimum wage requirement after a four-day trial. This portion of the jury’s verdict is unaffected by the court’s correction of the back wage award.

View the Department of Labor’s Quick Service Restaurants Compliance Assistance Toolkit for explanation of wage laws for the industry.

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