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Pasadena Restaurant Owners Stole Thousands of Dollars in Tips from their Employees, Sued by the Feds

Owners of the Entre Nous French Bistro cheated on their workers

Two owners of a Pasadena restaurant have stolen $250,000 from more than a dozen employees. A complaint was filed to a U.S. Department of Labor in the federal court last month. Hean-Christophe Febbrari and Mathias Wakrat are the owners of the Entre Nous French Bistro. They withheld a portion of tips that was for their workers and used that money to expand their business.

They used to collect credit card and cash tips from the customers and instead of distributing them amongst the workers, they transferred that money into their business account. They collected the cash tips and stored them under their cash register as mentioned in the complaint. To hide their cheating, they used to distribute a small fraction of their tips every week.

As reported in December 2021 the credit card tips that were collected were more than $12,000. Only $7,500 was sent to the staff. The rest amount was used for “other purposes” that were not disclosed. Investigators also found that the two owners “misclassified several employees as independent contractors and did not keep accurate pay records.”

 

Tips of eighteen employees stolen from them

Eighteen employees have gone through the horrendous damage of not getting what they earned. Authorities hope that they recover roughly $250,000 in back wages. The Department of Labor decided to forbid the restaurant owners from future violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The violation of the hard work of these workers is very heartbreaking. The law-abiding employers go through a lot because of such horrendous acts.

French Riviera is a world-renowned coastal region located in the South of France that runs along the Mediterranean Sea. Febbrari and Wakrat opened their restaurant in Old Pasadena in 2018. They sold their shares in another French restaurant and opened Entre Nous French Bistro.

Entre Nous automatically added a charge to all their bills as seen on their online menu which was printed in October. The menu mentions, “A 20% fee will be added to your bill. This is not a gratuity or tip. We are a no-tipping establishment. The fee is revenue that is not segmented or designated in any way; it is taxed per state law and is used to fund all our operations.” The restaurant also had a policy of a $50 minimum order per person.

As per the complaint, the Department of Labor confirmed that on May 25, 2023, a complaint against the French restaurant was still pending. Then the owners Febbrari and Wakrat implemented a no-tip policy. They instead decided to collect a 20% service charge from their customers. However, happy customers still used to leave cash tips for the employees of Entre Nous. Yet, the two owners used to keep those tips all for themselves.

As written in the federal law, employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” as they work for minimum wages and this helps them to earn for their hard work.  A service charge applied to a bill is not considered a tip. The owners have not yet responded to the emails and phone calls sent to them regarding the crucial matter.

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