According to the retaliation lawsuit, two bartenders were already engaged in a wage-and-hour lawsuit against Coyote Ugly alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when the president and founder of Coyote Ugly posted an entry on her blog, mentioning the lawsuit and alleging that one of the employees was fired for theft and added “f*** that b****.”
Additionally, a supervisor took it a step further and made a post to his Facebook page stating “Dear God, please don’t let me kill the girl that is suing me . . . . that is all . . . .” while allegedly sitting across the bar from the other employee.
Later that same night, the supervisor was told a customer had fallen and threatened to sue the company. The supervisor stated, “Why does everyone sue? I’m tired of all of these b****** taking their issues out on our company. They are f***ing idiots.”
Although the supervisor was facing another individual, his body was allegedly turned towards the employee, who was less than three feet away, while he made this statement.
The court found that the Facebook post, blog post and supervisor outburst could support the employees’ claims for retaliation for engaging in protected activity under the FLSA.
The original wage-and-hour FLSA collective lawsuit was based on an allegedly illegal tip pool. Bartenders were required to put all of the tips they earned during a shift into a pool. The pool was then distributed among Coyote Ugly’s bartenders, barbacks, and security guards who worked that shift.
Tip pooling is a common practice, but when it is done improperly, it can be a major source of problems. In this case, the employees claimed that the tip pool was unlawful because security guards, are not typically “tipped employees,” participated in it. The FLSA defines “tipped employees,” as those who “customarily and regularly receive tips,” such as waitresses and bartenders.
If your employer is violating California Labor Law and owes you money, please give Los Angeles Employment Attorney, Todd M. Friedman for a free consultation.