Florida Restaurant Illegally Swiped Servers Tips – $262,000 Recovered

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, servers at a Fort Myers restaurant will receive $262,000 in gratuities wrongly taken by their employer.

Ginza Japanese Restaurant at 4429 Cleveland Ave in Fort Myers required 75 servers to tip sushi chefs, owners, and managers based on the servers’ total sales. This policy made the restaurants’ tip pool invalid, the labor department’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found, per a Monday news release.

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Ginza Restaurant

“Tips are the property of the employees who earn them. No employer has the right to keep any tips unless they are given directly to the manager who directly serves a customer,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida. “This case shows that when an employer handles tip pools improperly, they may no longer apply a tip credit which can lead to an employer owing employees significant back wages and damages.”

The division also found the employers could not account for $22,000 in tips they withheld and had no records to prove those tips were paid to servers or any other employee. Ginza also failed to pay a regular rate and overtime to dual-occupation workers who completed separate roles.

Ginza manager Joshua Salinas said this happened a year and a half ago, and it’s “all cleared up now.”

Ginza is a sushi and hibachi restaurant that opened in April 2017 in the El Dorado Plaza near Cleveland Avenue and Colonial Boulevard.

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U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators recovered more than $27 million for more than 22,500 workers in the food service industry in fiscal year 2022. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

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