LOUISVILLE, KY – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered more than $188,000 for 125 employees at two Louisville coffee shops that illegally allowed managers to keep a portion of the tips earned by workers.

The news follows a Jan. 25, 2023, announcement by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of its recovery of $300,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 492 workers at Heine Brothers Inc., a Louisville coffee shop found to have redistributed tips and diverted workers’ tips to managers improperly.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Please & Thank You LLC and Sunergos Coffee Ltd. Co. LLC allowed store managers to participate in tip pools. By doing so, the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act that prohibits managers from keeping any portion of tips earned by employees.

The division recovered $108,705 in back wages and liquidated damages for 55 Please & Thank You employees, and $79,715 in back wages and damages for 70 Sunergos workers.

“Federal law protects earned tips to make sure they are paid to the workers who received them for their good service,” said Wage and Hour District Director Karen Garnett-Civils in Louisville, Kentucky. “Employers must follow the required criteria for operating tip pools or face costly consequences.”

“Food service workers are frequently harmed by the kind of wage violations found in the investigations here in Louisville,” Garnett-Civils added. “The outcome in these cases should remind industry employers to review their pay practices carefully and contact the Wage and Hour Division with questions or concerns.”

The Wage and Hour Division offers multiple tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone with questions about how to comply with the law, by calling the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Visit the agency’s website to learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including tip regulations under the FLSA.

The agency also maintains a search tool to learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.

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