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From Mass Live:
WEST SPRINGFIELD — The operator of the IHOP restaurant on Riverdale Street has agreed to pay approximately $100,000 to settle allegations it violated multiple sections of the law by conduct including forcing wait staff to pay out-of-pocket for customers who ran out without paying their bills.
According to a press release from Attorney General Martha Coakley's office, the settlement agreement requires RME Enterprises and its president and treasurer Robert Max Evans to pay back employees for a number of alleged violations that took money out of their pocket through the course of their employment.
"Workers deserve to be paid all of their wages, including tips," Coakley said in a statement. "Restaurant employees should not have to front the business costs of the restaurant out of their pay."
When reached at his home by phone on Friday, Evans, who ran for local office as a Republican candidate in the 1990s, declined to say anything relating to the settlement or the accusations against him and his business.
"I have no comment at all," Evans said.
A call to IHOP's corporate media relations spokesperson's cell phone wasn't returned Friday.
The investigation, sparked by a complaint filed with the office of state Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, revealed that the IHOP management had allegedly violated several laws including the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law, the Wage Act, the Tips Law and the Anti-Retaliation Law.
Coakley's office says workers' rights and wage laws were violated, with infractions including:
- Wait staff were required to pay from their tips the full meal costs of customers who left without paying their bills;
- Wait staff were required to share their tips with non-wait staff;
- Employees were required to pay from their wages the full meal costs of any meals for which a mistake was alleged to have been made;
- Employees were required to pay from their wages for “breakages” of dishware, the amount of which was determined by the employer based on dish type;
- Employees were subject to meal deductions from their wages when no meals were eaten, consent was not given generally, and at times when consent was specifically and affirmatively withheld;
- Employees’ work time, and thus wages, were “shaved” to account for alleged meal break time, when meal breaks were not taken generally and at times when employees specifically and affirmatively noted they took no break
The person who filed the initial complaint said that another employee was fired immediately when she refused to use her own tips to cover the bill of a patron who left without paying, according to the attorney general's office.
As a result of the settlement, 174 workers are slated to receive restitution ranging from $40 to more than $1,700, depending upon their length of service at this IHOP location.
The attorney general's office is responsible for enforcing laws regulating the payment of wages, meal breaks, overtime and misclassification of employees in Massachusetts. Anyone wishing to file a complaint against an employer for violating the law and their rights can call the Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.