Waitress sues seafood restaurant for labor violations over tip pool

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 24, 2011, 10:22am

TYLER - A waitress for an East Texas seafood restaurant has filed a lawsuit against her employer claiming she was forced to participate in a tip pool that was split with the cooks in violation of labor laws.

Samantha Coleman filed suit against Theppharaj Group , doing business as KT's Seafood and Grill; Kevin Theppharaj, individually; and Tevy Nop, individually; on June 14 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

According to the lawsuit, Coleman was an hourly employee who routinely worked 25-30 hours a week.

She was paid less than minimum wage because her employer used a portion of the tips she received in calculating Coleman's wages.

Coleman was required to contribute a portion of her total gross sales during each shift to a tip pool which was split with the restaurant's cooks.

"Defendants told his employees that if they did not tip back the cooks each shift, then the following shift would include having to double tip," the complaint alleges. "Defendants also told the employees that if they did not follow this procedure, then they would be written up or fired."

The defendant is accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay minimum wage compensation to Coleman.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for unpaid back wages, liquidated damages equal to the amount in unpaid compensation, court costs, attorney's fees and interest.

Coleman is represented by Robert Bobby Lee and Carmen Artaza of Lee & Braziel in Dallas. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00302

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