Daily Labor Report®

‘Hooters Girl’ Sues to Get Paid for Customer Chat Time

Dec. 31, 2018, 6:07 PM

Hooters doesn’t fully pay bartenders and servers for all the time they spend on work tasks, according to a lawsuit filed by a former employee at a restaurant in Texas.

Destiny Mireles says in the complaint that she and other “Hooters Girls” were required to spend “substantial time” performing job duties off the clock, such as chatting with customers about local attractions and other topics unrelated to the restaurant’s food and beverage offerings. They also had to attend pre-shift meetings and wait for managers to reconcile sales receipts and tips toward the end of shifts, she says.

In addition to failing to pay for all hours worked, Hooters paid a lower minimum wage that’s allowed for workers who earn tips without satisfying the requirements that allow it to do so, Mireles says. One of the requirements for an employer to take advantage of a lower wage is that it may be used only for tasks that lead to customer tips, or tasks that are related to tip-generating work, she says.

The U.S. Labor Department’s O*Net database doesn’t list the work tasks she identified among those performed by waitresses, Mireles says. As a result, they can’t be compensated at the tipped minimum wage, she says. O*Net contains information about more than 900 occupations.

The DOL in November walked back guidance for its wage-and-hour enforcement staff in which the agency said tipped employees who spend more than 20 percent of their work time on side duties that don’t lead to tips have to be paid the standard minimum wage, rather than the lower tipped minimum.

Mireles names Hooters and Restaurant Holder LLC, which operates the franchise location where she worked, as defendants. She asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to let her litigate on behalf of servers and bartenders at all Hooters locations throughout the U.S.

Hooters, a subsidiary of HIG Capital LLC, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Mireles v. Hooters of America, LLC, S.D. Tex., No. 4:18-cv-04846, complaint filed 12/28/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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