Restaurant owner Scott Dolich and his lauded downtown restaurant Park Kitchen may pay close to a million dollars to former employees for tip withholding and minimum wage violations, the Oregonian reports. A Multnomah County jury found the restaurant to have illegally split the tip pool with kitchen employees and managers over a six-year span, slapping the restaurant with a variety of massive fines.
In the initial class-action lawsuit, employees claimed Dolich was working off an outdated minimum wage for years, taking employers’ mandatory share of social security out of employee paychecks, and pooling tips with the general manager — whether or not she was actually at the restaurant. According to the lawsuit, former employee Nancy Allison was fired after complaining about the illegal tip pool; her employer told her, “The last thing I need is a labor union breathing down my neck.” When Holly Rice explored the possibility of filing a wage claim, she was also fired.
The Oregonian broke the news of the class-action lawsuit, saying $580,000 would go to 41 former employees of Park Kitchen and the now-shuttered Bent Brick. The O also referenced an additional sum of $138,000 awarded to the former employees; Jon Egan, the attorney representing the workers, clarified that the additional $138,000 was for minimum wage violations, amounting to 30 eight-hour days of income. Dolich will also have to pay $125,000 to 81 employees for wrongful deductions. All together the bill comes to approximately $843,000 before the legal bills and fees, which were also awarded to the members of the class-action suit.
Added to the already staggering fees are payments to two former employees, Holly Rice and Nancy Allison, who both won wrongful-termination payments. Rice won $50,000 in non-economic damages, plus an earlier $20,000 in economic damages. While Allison was not awarded non-economic damage fines, she’ll take home $30,000 for wrongful-termination fees.
Dolich released a statement on Thursday, standing by his behavior and denying any sort of inhospitable treatment of his employees. “Many in the legal community and I believe this verdict does not reflect the letter of the law,” the statement reads. “I know from the many communications of past and present employees it in no way reflects the foundation of our culture specifically in that it pits one group of our employees against another. That’s not how we choose to operate.” He did not comment on the wage violations.
Update: October 11, 2018, 11:22 a.m.: This story has been updated to include Dolich’s statement.
- Park Kitchen [Official]
- Park Kitchen fined $580,000 for wrongfully taking employee tips [Oregon Live]
- All Previous Park Kitchen Coverage [EPDX]
- All Previous Bent Brick Coverage [EPDX]