PHILADELPHIA - A district court has granted, in part, a request by a group of former diner waitresses requiring the owner of Clubhouse Diner to answer questions over its cash payroll practices.
On Feb. 1, U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois granted, in part, a motion by Carol Viscomi, Patricia Hatch, Susan Kennedy and other class members to compel their former employer, Esam Salah, the owner of Clubhouse Diner, to answer questions about his cash payroll practices.
DuBois found Salah in "civil contempt for his failure to answer appropriate questions related to his cash payroll practices as ordered by the court" and directed him to "submit to a deposition and answer all appropriate questions related to defendants’ cash payroll practices during the class period."
Additionally, DuBois ordered Salah to pay attorneys' fees incurred by the class members.
DuBois, however, did deny a motion for default judgment requested by the class members.
Class members filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Clubhouse Diner in August 2013 alleging wage violations and unlawful compensation practices under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, according to court filings.
Salah was granted a motion to stay in March 2014 after his attorneys argued they could not access records because financial books and records related to the civil case had been seized by the IRS in a criminal investigation related to the diner.
According to court documents, three waitresses from the diner were compensated at an hourly rate of $2.83 plus tips. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania was $7.25 per hour, thoughthe Fair Labor Standards Act permits employers to pay tipped employees a reduced hourly wage. It is often referred to as a “tip credit.”
However, the waitresses allege that they were required to contribute to the tip pool and that the diner "took a share of the tip pool money for themselves and used the tip pool to compensate employees who are not conventionally tipped — including employees who performed gardening, janitorial and dishwashing duties."