Recently, Riggan Law Firm, LLC, a St. Louis wage and hour law firm – working in connection with Dashtaki Law Firm, LLC – filed a class and collective action wage lawsuit against Vires-Renbarger, Inc., the company that owns and operates St. Louis restaurants Home Wine Kitchen and Table. The suit also brings claims against the company's owners, Joshua Renbarger and Cassandra Vires-Renbarger.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a class of tipped employees, such as servers, alleges that the restaurants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Missouri Minimum Wage Law ("MMWL") by misappropriating wages from employers by implementing and enforcing an unlawful tip pooling policy. Specifically, the suit alleges that tipped employees were required to share tips with improper tip pool participants, such as managers and kitchen staff (cooks/dishwashers).
As of January 2014, the federal minimum wage is $7.30/hour, and the Missouri minimum wage is $7.50/hour. The law allows tipped employees to be paid at a lower rate called the "server minimum wage," which is currently $2.13/hour under federal law and $3.75/hour under Missouri law, and then take a credit for tips paid by customers, provided that certain rules are followed by the employer. Among those rules is that servers cannot be required to share their tips with managers or back-of-the-house employees, such as cooks/dishwashers.
If you believe your rights to fair wages have been violated, or if you have questions about the legality of the wage practices of your current or former employer, you should contact a St. Louis wage attorney.