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54 U. Louisville L. Rev. Online 39 (2015)
“Eighty-Six” Our Wage and Hour Laws: Wage Theft in Kentucky’s Restaurant Industry
Carolyn Purcell*
    In January of 2013, after 22 years in business, Lynn’s Paradise Café (Lynn’s), a landmark restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, abruptly closed after nine days of very bad press. According to the food blog Eater, on January 2, Lynn’s implemented a new policy that required “all food servers to carry $100 cash for each shift to tip out support staff.” Leila DiFazio, a server at Lynn’s, “claimed she was fired for failing to do so” and posted her version of the events on the news station WLKY’s Facebook page. Nine days later, on January 11, a local coalition, Kentucky Jobs with Justice, launched “an awareness campaign about Lynn’s practices,” causing local news station WAVE 3 to report extensively on the dispute. On the same day, Lynn’s closed its doors. Although the owner, Lynn Winter, claimed that her battle with shingles caused the closure, the timing is somewhat conspicuous.
    In addition to employers unlawfully mandating tip pools, like the case at Lynn’s, tipped restaurant workers are subject to being underpaid for their time for myriad reasons. According to the National Employment Law Project’s 2006 report, Holding the Wage Floor: Enforcement of Wage and Hour Standards for Low-Wage Workers in an Era of Government Inaction and Employer Unaccountability, “it was found that over 200 workers from 43 investigated restaurants were underpaid by $250,000.” Additionally, in 2005, “[m]ore than half the restaurant workers” in New York City were “not paid overtime in contravention of governing laws.” Of the tipped workers polled in a study entitled Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, 30% were not paid the tipped worker minimum wage.
* J.D. Candidate, May 2016, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville.