§196-d of the New York Labor Law — Gratuities Owed You
The New York Department of Labor’s Hospitality Wage Order was enacted in January of 2011 to combat labor law abuses that have plagued the hospitality industry for far too long. Under §146-2.19(c) of the Hospitality Wage Order, hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, bars and catering companies are required to pay eligible employees any gratuities intended for them. This is especially important in regard to catering contracts that explicitly state a gratuity will be charged, typically 20 percent to 22 percent of the total cost of catering services. Under §146-2.19(c), employers are required to tell patrons and customers when a service charge is a gratuity or not. This means if the contract used by your employer lists a service charge, the amount involved must be passed along as a gratuity to eligible employees unless the customer has been told in writing that the service charge is not a gratuity.
If you work in the hospitality industry as a barkeep, waiter, busser, sommelier, maid or bellhop, you have certain rights under the law. If your employer has withheld gratuities owed you, contact New York gratuity violations attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC, today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Eligible Hospitality Industry Workers
In most cases, hospitality industry contracts will specify a service charge intended to serve as a gratuity to supplement the hourly wage different kinds of employees earn in the hospitality industry. These kinds of contracts often apply to the following kinds of hospitality industry workers and services:
- Chefs and cooks
- Setup crews
- Catered weddings
- Hotel events — conferences, award ceremonies, fundraisers
Gratuities and Hospitality Industry Contracts
All too often, employers list a service charge in a contract that customers assume is a gratuity intended for employees. In cases involving expensive events at exclusive hotels, a service contract might be worth $100,000. Consequently, 20 percent to 22 percent of its value would equal $20,000 to $22,000 that should be shared directly with eligible employees. Violations of the law occur when employers do not pass this amount along to employees and claim that the service charge mentioned in the contract isn’t intended as a gratuity but rather a fee to cover setup costs, miscellaneous expenses, transportation costs, etc.
Under §146-2.19(c) of the Hospitality Wage Order, if a service charge is not intended as a gratuity, the employer must notify a customer in writing that this is the case. If an employer intends on breaking service charges out into administrative fees and gratuities, the customer must be provided with this information and the list of how each will be broken out as well.
Taking Action — Recovering What Is Owed You
You can sue under the law, if your employer has withheld gratuities owed to you. Since the look-back period for these kinds of cases is six years, an employer is liable for any withheld gratuities that go back six years from the time your case is filed. If an employer has made a regular practice of withholding gratuities, the amount involved could be in the millions of dollars. As a result, when the case is settled or an award is made, employees stand to recover all the compensation owed them and, in certain cases, even more.
To learn more about your rights under the law and discuss your case, contact New York gratuity violations attorneys at the employment law office of Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC, today.
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