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Salinas v. Starjem Restaurant Corp.
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
123 F. Supp. 3d 442 (2016)
Enrique Salinas and other current and former employees (plaintiffs) of a restaurant known as Fresco by Scotto (Fresco) sued Fresco’s owner, Starjem Restaurant Corporation (Starjem) (defendant), alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employees worked at Fresco as bussers, runners, barbacks, stockers, and coffee preparers (collectively, employees). Starjem compensated the employees under a shift model in which they were paid for a set number of hours depending on whether they worked a lunch shift or a dinner shift. Starjem did not track the employees’ exact hours but did maintain records of the shifts worked. Starjem also did not always adhere to the system. For instance, Starjem never paid certain employees for more than 40 hours in a workweek even if they worked more than 40 hours. The minimum wage during the time relevant to the lawsuit was $7.50 per hour, and Starjem paid hourly wages ranging from $4.60 to $5.00 per hour. The employees also participated in Fresco’s tip pool whereby tips received during a shift were distributed among the employees based on a particular percentage for each position. Some employees spent significant time during each shift performing nontipped work. For instance, bussers and runners spent more than 20 percent of their lunch shifts doing nontipped work. In addition, the stockers and coffee preparer had only sporadic interaction with customers, amounting to less than 15 minutes per shift. Starjem nevertheless took a tip credit against all the employees’ wages for almost all hours worked.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Torres, J.)
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