Northeast Philadelphia diner makes waitress pay check of dine-and-dashers

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ByNydia Han via WPVI logo
Thursday, June 4, 2015
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The waitress says says the customers intentionally skipped out on the tab.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many of us have waited tables at a restaurant and unfortunately, there are times when customers dine and dash.

When that happens, who's responsible for covering the check?

For one local server, the answer was her.

Katie Morgan posted the following message to Facebook:

"To the family who came in yesterday morning for brunch and decided not only to leave a $3.00 tip on this $71.78 check but intentionally walk out without paying - thanks to you, I and my coworker had to pay up your bill. Failure to do so I and my partner who worked the room in which you dined would have been terminated."

So what's the deal?

We talked to the server, the restaurant manager, and an employment lawyer for answers.

Morgan says the customers intentionally skipped out on the tab and told us the response of her managers at Tiffany Diner.

"They say if you don't pay this - either half or full - don't bother coming back. You have to pay it, it's our policy. If you have a walk-out, you have to pay it," Morgan said.

I spoke with Morgan's manager Simon Gecer.

"They come to the register, see that the register is busy, they just go outside," Gecer said.

I asked him how is that the server's fault.

"If she was around her station, she would be aware of it," Gecer said.

After I contacted Tiffany Diner, it did give Morgan her money back, saying it looked at surveillance video and saw what had happened.

But says said its policy is in place to try to prevent servers from pocketing money left at tables.

Community Legal Services' employment lawyer Suzanne Young hasn't reviewed this particular case, but tells me in general:

"The loss of the table's order is a business loss that should not be placed on the back of the server.... Firing someone for failing to pay table loss is retaliation and illegal where it drops the worker's wages to below minimum wages. If minimum wage is not earned with tips, the employer must make up the difference."

We asked Gecer if he'd consider now changing his policy.

"We'll think about it. We have to change our policy. We have to do something about it," Gecer said.

Further information from Suzanne Young at Community Legal Services:

1) Dropping employees below minimum wage is a violation of the law. Although the tipped minimum wage is $2.83 an hour, any such employee MUST earn the minimum hourly wage of $7.25 per hour with tips. IF minimum wage is not earned with tips, the employer must make up the difference!

2) The loss of the table's order is a business loss that should not be placed onto the back of the server especially in this way of reducing wages for work performed.

3) Firing someone for failing to pay the table loss is retaliation and illegal where it drops the worker's wages to below minimum wages.

4) Residents of Philadelphia can come to CLS for possible assistance. Community Leagle Services will have addresses of both offices & hours of intake.

LINKS:

Community Leagle Services

Restaurant Opportunities Center Unified