KY Jobs With Justice launches campaign for fired Lynn’s employees

One of the states’ premier workers rights organizations has thrown itself into the ongoing dispute between the veritable poster child for  Louisville’s “weird” independent business scene and the former employees who claim they were fired for speaking out about its policies.

From a modest west Louisville office, Kentucky Jobs With Justice Executive Director Bonifacio Flaco Aleman unveiled Service Workers for Justice, a new website that features the quasi-anonymous testimonies of former Lynn’s Paradise Cafe employees who claim mistreatment at the hands of their former employer.

The new site follows a widely publicized kerfuffle between the restaurant and former employee Leila DiFazio that originally broke on the Louisville Eater blog late last week. DiFazio was reportedly fired on Jan. 2, 2013, for speaking out about a new policy implemented by the restaurant that requires servers — not the restaurant — to provide a $100 “bank” for the purposes of tipping out coworkers, such as busboys and hosts. A request for comment from the restaurant has not been returned.

Owner Lynn Winter told the Louisville Eater blog that employees were made aware of the policy change, and that the restaurant instituted the new policy for a couple of different reasons, which included uncertainties over “the policies of Obamacare.”

Winter explained the requirement of waitstaff to carry $100 was to ensure they have “enough cash on hand to be able to tip the secondarily tipped people [buses, bartenders, foodrunners and expos] because I didn’t want them to say ‘I have no cash, I can’t tip you today.’”

“What I’ve been hearing from them is that they were very very worried that they were going to get stiffed by the waitstaff because they wouldn’t have any cash at the end of the day because they got so many credit card tips,” Winter said. Winter added that she verified that other local restaurants have similar requirements of their waitstaffs before she made the change, although she wouldn’t name them as she didn’t want to share another local business’s practices. Nationally, she said Bob Evans has a similar requirement.

Aleman says the intention of the site is to educate the city’s dining public about the harm these policies are causing its workers, and to pressure the restaurant to change them.  Further, he hopes the new website fosters a broader conversation about the treatment of service sector employees — which represent one of the fastest growing segments of post-recession America — across the city and the state.

29 Comments

  1. sj
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I thank you for your support for this cause but please stop narrowing the issue to an employee and lynns when in fact if there were any hard hitting lawyers in town this situation is really years and years of employees(hundreds) having their rights violated in a class action worthy lawsuit. I challenge you to throw a rock i this city and hit someone who doesnt know what a morally bankrupt individual lynn is. I personally have several years of time slips over eight hours with no lunch or break just a little taste of what a real investigation would uncover.

  2. Puhn Tang
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard of this policy in high end establishments (have no idea what Lyn’s servers make) but I’ll bet that Bob Evans sure doesn’t tell it’s wait staff to bring their own hundred dollar bank to work every day… and that “policy” of not paying out credit card tips until “pay day” is pure bullshit and perhaps illegal.

  3. Puhn Tang
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    PS Many, many moons ago I worked as a server in some high end joints and made damn good tips. Part of the deal was a high tension environment with screaming chefs and some managers who would have been asked to leave their jobs as Marine Corps drill sergeants for un-due cruelty. At the end of the night, however, when the customers went home happy and with considerably lightened wallets, the tension was gone and we drank together, even with the crabby assed chefs, and we were never screwed out of money we earned. It’s the difference between a tough but fair boss, and a worthless asshole.

  4. Doug Davis
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    With this quote:
    “Winter explained the requirement of waitstaff to carry $100 was to ensure they have “enough cash on hand to be able to tip the secondarily tipped people [buses, bartenders, foodrunners and expos] because I didn’t want them to say ‘I have no cash, I can’t tip you today.’””

    She sealed her fate. Under Kentucky state law tipping pools are VOLUNTARY as required by law. So they can say that and choose not to tip out that night should they so desire.
    Incoming law suit and settlement in 3…2…1.

  5. Linda
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Lynn’s has closed. Result of this or coincidence?

  6. Cindi
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Sad and unfortunate. That same tipping program, has been around a long time!
    Now 100 people without a great job and Louisville with out a Landmark.

  7. Michelle
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I do not understand why tipped employees are required to tip out employees who make a regular paycheck. If the hourly employees feel they are not making as much as the servers, maybe they should switch positions.
    I’m sure this will come out in the wash in the next few months.

  8. Mary
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The truth has not came out yet. Can’t wait till it does

  9. Ian
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that many good people have lost jobs they enjoyed, a situation that has worked for them for years due to a few people that did not. So, instead of leaving to find what would work for these few, they fabricate and expand half truths, compromising the good positions of proud, hard working individuals.This makes me sick.

  10. Kelly In Louisville
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    As someone who used to wait tables at some very high end restaurants, I’ve always been of the belief that it wasn’t my job to pay the salaries of other employees. If they aren’t happy with what they are making, either ask for a raise or switch to the front of the house. That all being said, I still tipped my busboys and bartenders a percentage of my tips and sales and always made a point of buying a drink for the back of house employees but again, everyone in the business knows that waiting tables is where the cash is in a restaurant.

  11. Kelly In Louisville
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    As for their closing, yeah it sucks that people are out of a job but if you’ve spent any time working in the local food and beverage industry you’ve most certainly heard the talk about Lynn and what a pain in the ass she is. SJ up top nailed it in his description of her as morally bankrupt.

    That she pulled this stunt isn’t the least bit surprising. Food was average on a good night and the kitsch is so 1990′s. It won’t be missed.

  12. AJ
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m naive here, but… tips are left for servers. A customer doesn’t leave a tip for a busboy or a host; that is not the convention at all. The money they leave is intended FOR the person who waited on them. So splitting it up and saying some of it is for the other staff is taking money from the servers that they rightfully earned and which was given directly to them, for them to keep. This is not to say hosts and busboys don’t work hard and deserve pay — that’s why the RESTAURANT is supposed to be paying them a fair wage, because no one leaves a tip for them.

  13. dukie
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    i worked at lynns for almost 2yrs and im not sad that she closed an finally got called out on her bullshyt..she mistreated and fired so many an basicly thought rulez ddnt apply to her..shes about to get everythng she deserves

  14. B. Graham
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Lynn’s closing won’t be missed by me at all! Now, Joe Davola’s I will most definetely miss!!!

  15. Steve
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Why can’t business owners follow the laws and treat their employees with dignity and respect?????
    The service industry now employees a large portion of the work force in the US.
    Seems about time the old $2 an hour server wage laws be updated for inflation.

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