Current, former employees sue Hyman's Seafood over 'tipping' policy

Published: Jul. 23, 2014 at 1:17 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM EDT
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The owners of a popular seafood restaurant in Downtown Charleston are being sued after more than a dozen current and former employees allege the restaurant's "tipping" policy violates federal law.

Hyman's Seafood Company has until the end of the month to respond to a class action lawsuit filed by 15 employees. The lawsuit was filed July 3 after a former waitress came forward. According to court documents, Hyman's takes $5 at the end of the night from each server for a tip pool. From that pool, $1 goes to the main dishwasher and another dollar goes to the salad preparer.

The U.S. Department of Labor says a valid tip pool is only one shared among those who deal with customers directly like servers, bussers and bartenders.

It does not include "…employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips, such as dishwashers, cooks, chefs and janitors." It went on to say that when a restaurant's policy is to distribute tips among non-tipped employees, the restaurant has violated the tip credit policy of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The court documents also allege that another portion of the $5 is paid to the restaurant's owners for "breakage".

The lawsuit says the servers were told the "breakage" fee went towards lost silverware and broken dishes.

According to the lawsuit, the employees are also suing for overtime, saying the defendants knowingly allowed servers to "work off the clock."

Live 5 News has reached out to the restaurant's attorney for comment.

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