Payday arrives for Chickie’s and Pete’s waitstaff victimized by ‘tip-skimming’

Chickie's and Pete's waiters serve up crab fries and other specialty dishes. Credit: Metro file photo Chickie’s and Pete’s waiters serve up crab fries and other specialty dishes. Credit: Metro file photo

More than two years after former Chickie’s and Pete’s bartender Anthony LaPlante filed a lawsuit against the popular chain restaurant for ‘tip-skimming,’ about 90 wait-staff involved in the class action lawsuit are receiving their payouts today.

Employees and former employees at the sports-bar chain famed for its original “crab fries” who signed on to this lawsuit will receive from $1,200 to $45,000 from a $1.68 million settlement negotiated by lawyer Lou Pechman, the Daily News reported.

The suit originally claimed that Chickie’s and Pete’s skirted minimum wage requirements by forcing bartenders and waitstaff to pay two to four percent of their gross sales back to the restaurant in cash, a fee workers allegedly called the “Pete Tax” in reference to owner Peter Ciarrocchi Jr.

Waitstaff claimed that a manager at each franchise location would collect the “tax” from waitstaff at the shift’s end and that a representative from the corporate office would once a week come and pick up the cash.

Employees who didn’t make enough to cover the tip-out were told by managers to “tap MAC,” or withdraw the money from their personal bank accounts.

Chickie’s and Pete’s also settled a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor for $6.8 million that will go to1,159 other employees, but that settlement has not officially been paid out yet.

The Department of Labor investigated Chickie’s and Pete’s after the tip-skimming lawsuit was filed, and filed a lawsuit of their own against the chain for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Beyond the tip-skimming, the Department of Labor foundthat Chickie’s and Pete’s did not allow waitstaff to leave until their carpeted sections were clean, but only provided them with brooms. Therefore, employees were “required to purchase their own Shark vacuum cleaners.”

Servers were also forced to pay the bills of “dine and dash” patrons and bartenders had to make up for any shortage in their end-of-shift cash till using personal funds. Waiters also had to pay for their own uniforms, and were not paid overtime even when working shifts in excess of 10 hours long.

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