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Server Forced to Share Tips with Management Files Nationwide Class Action

Today we filed suit in Federal Court in Austin, Texas against Lonesome Dove on behalf of Mason Hoff and a class of Lonesome Dove's servers in Austin, Fort Worth, and Knoxville, Tennessee.

The servers bring claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the "FLSA") against Lonesome Dove, a Fort Worth-based restaurant with locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The FLSA is the federal law that requires employers pay their employees minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and overtime (time and a half). For tipped employees, employers can pay employees just $2.13 per hour and credit the employee's tips toward the total $7.25 per hour minimum wage. The FLSA also allows employers to require its tipped employees participate in tip-pooling with other tipped employees.

But an employer may not require that a tipped employee share their tips with non-tipped employees like managers or supervisors. If they do, the employer is unable to credit tips towards those employees' minimum wage and likely must reimburse the employees for unpaid minimum wage (up to $5.12 per hour worked) and for the tips that were improperly shared with the non-tipped employee.

In the lawsuit, the servers allege that they were forced to participate in a tip pool that included management and other non-tipped employees. The servers also claim Lonesome Dove paid them less than the requisite $2.13 per hours in weeks where they were forced to (1) pay out of their own pocket for customer orders that were not rung up; and (2) purchase mandatory uniforms from Lonesome Dove. The servers are seeking their unpaid minimum wages for the period, reimbursement of the tips they were forced to share with the management and supervisors, double ("liquidated") damages, and their costs and attorneys' fees.

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