The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that employees who were forced to make up cash shortages out of their tip money because customers left without paying were entitled to damages. The class-action lawsuit against the popular Drink and Spin nightclubs was filed by more than 750 employees and the award is expected to surpass six figures.
Thomas Rupp started working at Drink back in 2007. It never occurred to him to go against the company’s policy. “It didn’t seem right,” Rupp said. “But who were we to question the bosses who said we had to pay in?”
Rupp, who now works in government finance, said the ruling is about more than just money.
“It’s a great victory for bartenders and servers who don’t have to be afraid and be bullied by their bosses,” he said. “This is their money that they rightfully earned, and it should be up to the business to account for these losses through better management.”
Steven Andrew Smith represented the plaintiffs in the suit. He said the ruling sets a precedent that should help bar employees in the future, The Star Tribune reported.
“This ruling deals with a practice that is sort of the dirty little secret of Twin Cities bars and restaurants — where if the till’s short, you’ve gotta pay if you want to keep your job,” Smith said. “It sends the message that you can’t do that.”
The executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, Dan McElroy, said that most restaurants don’t ask their servers to cover losses out of their own pockets.
"We advise our members that state labor law does not allow them to deduct from wages" for dine-and-dash customers, unsigned receipts and similar scams,” McElroy said. "The law is very specific that you can't do that."