Seattle, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) – A restaurant in a trendy area of Seattle has agreed to pay $450,000 in unpaid wages to 300 current and former workers who had sued. Some recipients will get as much as $9,800 from Independent Brewers United, the parent company of Pyramid Alehouse Restaurant, located in the SoDo, or South of Downtown district.
The lawsuit alleged that Pyramid was not paying overtime or accurately recording the work hours for its employees. Workers had complained that hours had been deleted on their timesheets, a practice known as ‘time shaving,’ a common form of wage theft. Since legal fees can cost more than the money owed to workers in so many instances, there is no realistic legal recourse for employees who fall victim.
Employees also claimed the company was collecting the tips that were to be paid out to workers.
Initially, the lawsuit sought reimbursement of unpaid wages; but employees added that they were not allowed to take breaks during their shifts when the restaurant saw heavy traffic from game days and concerts (the restaurant is located near sports and concert arenas).
One Alehouse prep worker and dishwasher who had been with the restaurant for four years became part of the lawsuit when he noticed that his timesheet never accounted for any overtime he had worked. “For example, 87.32 hours only ended up being 79.3 hours,” said Jeremy Brotherton in a news release. Since his hours would never add up to more than 80 hours, Brotherton lost out on overtime pay he would have received.
A former bartender at Pyramid who was one of the workers named in the original lawsuit that had been filed in April of 2018 feels the issue goes beyond just the one restaurant and that there needs to be a culture change within the restaurant industry. In a media release, he stated, “Workers need to know they have rights and they can’t be fired for saying, ‘Hey something is wrong with my paycheck this week.’ And talk to your coworkers too. You’re not alone, and they’re probably experiencing the same things as you are.”
In the same media release Rachel Lauter, Executive Director at Fair Work Center and Working Washington, noted “Fair Work Center is incredibly proud to play a role in bringing justice to workers at the Pyramid Alehouse in SoDo. Class action employment cases like this help show that when workers stand together, they have the strength and the power to make serious changes in their work conditions.”
In addition to the settlement, the restaurant will have to provide mandatory training for its workers on fundamental employment rights, like knowing when they are on the clock and such, so they know if something is not right.
A server who had been employed with Pyramid for five years has said she didn’t even know that she was being paid less because she was not expecting to make much money to begin with. “It takes someone like a host or a busser who gets that regular pay to see something’s wrong,” she said. “You get taxed so heavily on your tips, you do not see that increase.”
WorkersCompensaiton.com reached out to Pyramid, and Independent Brewers United, but did not receive a response before press time.