Black Angus Hit With Lawsuit Over Unlawful Tipping Policy, Sexual Harassment

A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Black Angus, a steakhouse, alleging the restaurant forces employees to share tips and retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment.

According to the plaintiff, since beginning employment at a Black Angus Steakhouse, she “was subject to witness verbal and physical behavior of a sexual nature by her manager.” She says she reported the incidents to upper management and, as a result, suffered from retaliation.

The plaintiff also alleges that Black Angus’ unlawful tipping policies force her to share 10 percent of her alcohol sales with bartenders, 1 percent with expediters, and $1 with bussers, but all her tips are included as taxable income on her paycheck. She says she reported these unlawful tipping policies and was again subject to retaliation.

According to the lawsuit, in response to her reports of sexual harassment and unlawful tipping policies, she was subjected to unfair reprimands, harassing conduct, micromanagement, warnings and verbally abusive behavior. The plaintiff also alleges Black Angus engage in defamation and disclosed confidential information about her to other employees. The plaintiff claims that Black Angus has deprived her of wages, caused her to suffer severe emotional distress, and has engaged in unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff witnessed her manager touching and talking to other employees in a sexually inappropriate way soon after she began working at a Black Angus restaurant in California. She says she reported the incident to upper management, but only received a “blank promise” to investigate the situation. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff says she was denied a position as a full-time server, a position promised at the time of her hiring. Instead, she saw other full-time servers hired on for months before she was given the position she was promised.

Further, alleges the plaintiff, when she finally became a server, she was informed of Black Angus’ unlawful tipping policy. Not only do ten percent of her tips for alcoholic beverages go to the bartenders, the lawsuit alleges, she was required pay taxes on those portion of the tips, as well as the portion that goes to bussers and other staff under the policy. Additionally, bartenders are not required to report their cash tips – the company does not keep track of those exchanges, alleges the plaintiff.

The plaintiff says that she and other servers organized to report the unlawful tipping policy to the U.S. Department of Labor. The plaintiff alleges that in response she was subjected to retaliation, including micromanagement practices and being embarrassed in front of fellow employees.

The plaintiff is seeking damages, including compensatory damages and interest as well as liquidated damages available under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Numerous federal and state laws protect employees at their place of work and protect them from retaliation. If you are being treated unfairly at work, contact an experienced employment law attorney at Bradley/Grombacher to help protect your legal rights.