Ithaca Food Service Workers Win $10,000 Settlement — Diamonds Restaurant Appropriated Tip Money from Waiters and Waitresses
The Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition/Workers’ Rights Center today announces details of a settlement won by food service workers against New Delhi Diamonds Restaurant, 106 W. Green Street and its owner Baldhev Sekhon.
For at least a year (2003-2004) and probably longer New Delhi Diamonds stole money from waiters and waitresses by appropriating for itself any tip money left by patrons for waiters and waitresses at the restaurant. As part of the agreement with the Attorney General the restaurant agreed to pay $10,000 in restitution to its wait staff.
In addition to the $10,000 settlement, the restaurant also agreed to provide four paid personal days to all employees with over one year’s service and allow the Attorney General’s office to periodically monitor its books. Diamonds has never before provided paid personal leave days for employees.
The scam first came to light when two employees approached the Workers’ Rights Center in October 2003. Investigation identified other employees that Diamonds demanded customer tip money from. The Workers’ Rights Center then assisted the employees in contacting Assistant Attorney General Deborah Baumgarten who launched an official investigation culminating in the settlement we are describing today.
It is illegal under state and federal law for an employer to demand any portion of tips left by customers. This is the case no matter what the hourly wages paid to waiters and waitresses. New York law does permit employers to pay a reduced minimum wage (currently $3.85/hour) to food service workers in the restaurant industry provided such workers earn sufficient tips so that their hourly wage, with tip income, is at least the state minimum wage, currently $6/hour.
The Workers’ Rights Center of the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition provides information, referral and advocacy assistance for workers treated unfairly on the job. In two years we have handled 350 complaints and have won close to $50,000 in restitution and benefits for Tompkins County workers. The Workers’ Rights Center can be contacted at 269-0409 or TCWRC@yahoo.com