W. Va. Eatery Sued Over Wage Theft Allegations

On Friday, Chastity Adkins, acting as a representative for herself and fellow co-workers, filed a complaint in the Northern District of West Virginia against Mt. Nebo Foods, LLC, Dewey J. Guida Enterprises, Dewey J. Guida and Michael McMullen for alleged wage theft by taking servers’ tips, resulting in the employees making less than federal and state minimum wages.

The plaintiffs worked, and some continue to work, at Dee Jay’s BBQ Ribs & Grille which has two locations in West Virginia, the complaint explained. The named defendants purportedly had full authority to hire and fire employees, as well as set their schedules and wages. They had a policy “requiring 3% of each server’s total sales to be paid out and subsequently shared between managers, kitchen staff, and hosts/hostesses.” In reality, the plaintiffs argue, this led to servers having to put their own tips into the pool, which most of the time resulted in them being paid less than both federal ($7.25 per hour) and state minimum wages ($8.75 per hour). As a result, “approximately $4000 in tips in a respective week could be shared between employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips.” 

According to the complaint, the defendants are under investigation from the Department of Labor “for the improper nature of their tip-pool policy.” As a result, the defendants “coached employees to tell the DOL investigators that managers were servers and that they worked 80% of the time bussing tables, when—in reality—they did not.” The alleged violations of minimum wage started on January 6th, 2019 and continued to the present where the defendants “reckless[ly] disregard” this illegal practice. The plaintiffs are suing on the counts of a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and for a violation of West Virginia minimum wage laws.

The plaintiffs and putative class are seeking certification of the FLSA collective, class certification, damages, back pay equal to the amount of tips taken from the plaintiffs for the past three years, liquidated damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.
The plaintiffs are represented by Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A.  and Barkan Meizlish Derose Cox, LLP.