Waitress alleges tip skimming; seeks to file suit against TPC So - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Waitress alleges tip skimming; seeks to file suit against TPC Southwind

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

Waitresses have reached a tipping point over their own tips. Tennessee's top judge will now decide if waiters who think their tips are being unfairly split can sue their employers.

"It's got massive implications," attorney Bruce Kramer said.

Kramer represents Kim Hardy in her lawsuit against Tournament Players Club at Southwind. 

Hardy said that as a server her tips were collected in a tip pool, but instead of distributing all the tips to servers, management kept some of the tips.

"In our opinion, that violates the very language of the tip statute," Kramer said.

According to Kramer, the tip statute said an employer must give all tips to the servers as the customer intended, not to kitchen staff or management.

However, TPC Southwind's attorney argues Hardy does not have a right to sue in civil court because of a change state lawmakers made partially because of the statute.

"And took out the probable cause of action under 101," Kramer said. 

All of that is legal talk that simply says an employee can't sue, they can only file a complaint with the Department of Labor or the District Attorney General. So, before anything is decided on if the club was in the wrong for taking part of Hardy's tips, the issue is if Hardy has a right to sue.

"Right now, we're just on the legal issue of whether or not the employee can sue the employee for the alleged skimming of the tips," Kramer said.

Ben Mclean is one of the owners at Belly Acres in Overton Square. His wait staff's tips go into a tip pool like the TPC Southwind's but, at Belly Acres, they do things differently than what Hardy said happens at TPC Southwind.

"Just the wait staff at our establishment [get money from pool]," Mclean said. 

He said kitchen staff and management are paid differently. 

"Each level has their own pay, but, yeah, we pay them out of the sale of the food, not out of the tip," Mclean said. 

Caleb Johnson is one of Mclean's servers and said he likes how the tips are divided at the restaurant.

"I guess it's all about being fair with it," Johnson said.

As a server, he sees how this lawsuit could affect him in future jobs.

"Whatever this girl is doing, I support her in the sense that she's making hourly wages more just," Johnson said.

Lawyers for the club said they think the courts will decide Hardy will not be allowed to follow through on the lawsuit. 

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