Monthly Archives: March 2012
New York Celebrity Chef Batali, of “Iron Chef America,” “The Chew“ and “Mario Eats Italy” fame, has agreed to pay out $5.25 million to employees to settle an employee class-action lawsuit about tipping.
The settlement involves 1,100 employees, but serves as an expensive lesson about the consequences of playing fast and loose with federal wage and hour laws and skimming off tipping pools.
According to the Toronto Sun, “Batali and the other owners of the eateries unlawfully skimmed four to five percent of the staff’s wine or alcoholic beverage sales from the tip pool, taking an unlawful “tip credit,” paying staff members less than the minimum wage, and failing to provide “spread-of-hours” pay — that is, extra pay when a double shift extends over a certain number of hours in the day.”
Lesson learned. Don’t mess with tips and basic rules about wages.
Downtown Nashville bars and restaurants are poised to have a huge weekend, with St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday, and NCAA men’s basketball playoff’s at Bridgestone Arena on Friday and Sunday. Cash registers will be ringing nonstop.
So why is Will Cheek blogging about this?
The NCAA tournament will draw a huge college crowd, with tons of under 21 year-olds looking to try to grab a drink at watering holes. St. Patrick’s Day is infamous for inspiring revellers to drink to excess. The combination makes for a dangerous weekend mix of profitable sales, underage consumers and exuberantly intoxicated patrons.
Surprise! Nashville police and ABC agents plan to be out in full force this weekend. Plan on visits by law enforcement. Make sure your staff is ready and that everyone is vigilant about carding and taking care of intoxicated patrons.
Hope springs eternal, but not for Tennessee restaurants and bars in the wee hours of Sunday morning March 11, when clocks spring forward for daylight savings time. At 2 am, clocks spring forward an hour.
Suddenly, it is 3 am. Is it closing time?
The Tennessee ABC says yes. Last Call is an hour early. At 2 pm standard time, when clocks are set forward one hour for daylight savings time, alcohol sales must cease. The Nashville Beer Board concurs. On Sunday morning, closing time is 2 am.
There is good news at the end of summer. On Sunday November 4, bars get a bonus hour and can close at the equivalent of 4 am, when clocks fall back at 2 am. At 2 am, suddenly it is 1 am.
Confusion over daylight savings time is rampant. But the Tennessee ABC is clear about the rule. Close at 2 am this Sunday March 11.
From Una to Belle Meade, restaurant and bar owners across Metro Nashville Davidson County are getting letters that remind us of a famous Beatles song:
Memphis has a storied reputation for being conspicuously uncommon. The Home of the Blues has attracted considerable attention for its efforts to ensure that all employees of off-premise beer permit holders can legally sell beer.
We previously blogged about the story here.
On February23, 2012, Memphis issued revised instructions about requirements for employee registrations for off-premises sellers.
We read the letter as requiring a background check on every employee that touches beer, and a $21 employee card. Instead of requiring employees or employers to pay Memphis for the $29 TBI background check, the new rule essentially offsets the expense to the employee or employer.
The new rule laid down by Memphis reminds us of Louis Armstrong: “You like tomato, and I like tomahto. Potato, potatho, tomato, tomahto! Let’s call the whole thing off.”
Its the same darn thing – either pay Memphis to do the search or pay to do it yourself.
Tennessee and Memphis law require that beer permit holders cannot employ anyone that has been convicted of a felony, crime involving alcohol, or crime of “moral turpitude” in the past 10 years.
Most restaurants have liquor licenses and all servers are required to hold Tennessee ABC server permit cards, which require employees to disclose all crimes on the application.
There is no similar requirement for grocery and convenience store employees. Although state law prohibits a business from employing folks with disqualifying convictions, there is no way for local beer boards to realistically enforce the law.
The Memphis Alcohol Commission, which grants and oversees beer permits in Memphis, was justifiably concerned about sales to minors. The Commission decided that requiring criminal background checks for off-premises employees would help curb sales to minors.
Problem is, state law prohibits a city from imposing additional fees or taxes for beer licensing, if the city charges the lucrative “inspection fee” on beer wholesalers. Industry insiders report that Memphis reaps millions of dollars annually from the inspection fee.