5 Common (But Ultimately Nonsensical) Excuses Restaurant Workers Get When Their Bosses Steal Their Tips

Whether you work at a fine Manhattan restaurant or a small diner in the outer reaches of Queens, you’re protected by powerful pieces of legislation, including the Fair Labor Standards Acts (FLSA) and New York Labor Laws. Here are 5 common excuses that may be keeping you from getting the help that you really need:

• “They’re just taking a little money – it’s not that big a deal”

First of all, an injustice is injustice. An illegal act is an illegal act. Even small acts of “nickel and diming” can adding up. For instance, perhaps you’re “only” losing $50 a week due to unfair tipping or wage practices. That adds up to $200 a month or $2,400 a year!

• “I don’t like what they’re doing, but this job was hard to get, and I need to keep it.”

The law prevents employers from retaliating against workers who complain about wage and hour violations. Your employer cannot fire you for complaining — or demote you or fail to promote you for good performance.

• “No one else at the restaurant seems has a problem.”

Just because no one’s complained does mean that the problem does not exist or that other people are not suffering because of it. In fact, if your employer has been breaking the law routinely for years, a class action lawsuit might be the most appropriate remedy.


• “I’ll just make up the money by taking a second job or cutting back on expenses.”

It’s smart to try to live within your means. You’re trying to deal with your financial issues resourcefully. But again, there is no rational reason to allow wage and hour abuse to continue.

• “I’m scared about what other people, like my co-workers or even my family, will say if I complain or file a lawsuit.”

The sad fact is that many people choose discomfort over uncertainty. The devil you know might be unpleasant, but at least he is familiar. But this kind of thinking can lead you to suffer brutal or at least highly unfair situations for months or years. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone a little bit – particularly when so much is on the line for you and your family.

The team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum has taken on and won many prominent wage and hour battles. Call us at (212) 688-5640 for a free consultation with our team, or email us at info@jhllp.com.