Former servers at popular gay Midtown Atlanta restaurant Joe’s on Juniper have filed suit against the owners in the U.S. District Court of Georgia – Atlanta Division for failure to pay minimum and overtime wages, which would be a violation of federal law.

Atlanta employment law firm Mays & Kerr LLC is representing the servers and is seeking former Joe’s employees who want to join the suit.

The complaint claims that Joe’s owners and operators “required Tipped Employees to pay a portion of their tips to non-tipped employees and failed to provide proper notice of its minimum wage obligations to tipped employees,” per a press release. The suit also alleges that Joe’s “shaved and altered employee time sheets to avoid paying overtime.”

Attorneys are citing the federal Fair Labor Standards Act in the suit, which requires certain employers to pay minimum wage and overtime for all time exceeding 40 hours per work. Joe’s on Juniper is owned by Metrotainment Cafes, who own and run other popular restaurants in the LGBT community including Einstein’s and Cowtippers.

Messages have been left for Mays & Kerr and Metrotainment Cafes CEO Jeffrey Landau. No one who answered the phone at Joe’s on Juniper would comment on the lawsuit. Will update the story as further details arise.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.

The GA Voice has obtained a copy of the lawsuit and spoken to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs in the case are Ryan Washington, Ian Ingram and Tatyana Brown, who are suing Metrotainment Cafes LLC, Political Concepts LLC and Jeffrey and Amy Landau. Mr. Landau is managing member of both Metrotainment and Political Concepts, who filed for bankruptcy last June. Mrs. Landau is the registered agent for both companies.

Attorney John Mays with Mays & Kerr tells the GA Voice that the defendants have responded to the suit and that he and his firm have asked the court for a conditional certification of a collective action. A collective action is different from a class action suit in that employees must opt-in for a collective action lawsuit, whereas with a class action the affected employees are presumed to be a part of the class and must opt out if they desire not to be part.

“Until the court comes back with an order either granting or denying that, the case it stayed,” Mays says.

The Fair Labor Standards Act has a two year statute of limitations but that becomes three years if there are willful violations, which is what attorneys for the plaintiffs are claiming occurred in this case. The suit was filed on Sept. 8 of this year so they are looking for any servers who worked at Joe’s on Juniper on or after Sept. 8, 2011.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.

The GA Voice has obtained a copy of the response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, which lists nineteen different defenses and was filed on Oct. 2. We have reached out to the defense attorney’s office for comment.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders

6 Responses

  1. Jo

    Typical restaurant abuse and one of the reasons I no longer am a chef. My last chef job required I work a minimum of 50 hours a week whether or not I finished my work load AND gave me a hard time stating I am not committed. I tripled sales in two months, scrubbed a kitchen for top to bottom that clearly was neglected and had active rats. Thanks for clarifying why I no longer desire to be abused Aqua Blue/Sterling Spoon.

    Reply
    • A

      Worked for neighbors (owned by Doug Landau, brother of Jeffrey Landau) and the same thing happened. Never got my training pay until over 3 months of me working there. Finally received it after going to management (after what seemed like the 100th time) and demanding my pay as they were withholding my rightful wage. Quit the same day. These guys just lucked up on some money left to them and thought it’d be a good idea to own restaurants without any Industry experience. Total boneheads.

      Reply
  2. Cho Ksontic

    As a former bartender with another establishment owned by Metro, we were not allowed to count down our drawers or count our tips at the end of the night. We were told that it was all done in the office, behind locked doors. Unless we counted our tips before we were cashed out, we didn’t know. At one point, I was told that I was not allowed to touch the tip jar because we pooled, unless I was on a shift alone. Then I could count my cash, but could not take it. If the drawer was short, they took that out of my tips. If it was over, they kept the money. On a busy night, sometimes we would not break change, leaving it in the drawer. If we did and forgot later; too bad, so sad. Since we could not pull the report and count down our own drawers, leaving it to a manger who was also in and out of our registers making change etc, it was always very sketchy. If they made a mistake breaking change, we had to pay. Who’s to say that they didn’t skim off the top and out of our tip jar? Only after several complaints were we allowed to count our tips, even on pooled weekends. As bartenders, we don’t trust anyone. Especially management behind closed doors!

    Reply
  3. ATL30309

    Sounds like a familiar story. BJ Roosters is also allegedly in trouble for the same issue. ….and just ask anyone who worked at the old Outwrite Bookstore how they were supposedly treated. Unethical behavior is not unique to straight businesses.

    Reply
  4. Shawn

    Restaurant industry is truly modern day slavery. Waitstaff works their asses off on weekends, holidays, evenings, with very little to no benefits, and is dependent 100% on mercy of their customers to make a living. Then you have properly-paid co-workers who gets a portion of your tip, managers fix your hours, and the government makes you pay hundreds during tax season.

    Reply
  5. Just Abrams

    This company does the same to management in regards to PnL bonus. Takes four months to reconcile and then number are changed. The owners “change” with every lawsuit. They also change bank accounts every two months to keep from paying lawsuit settlements. That is why they lost Garrisons. For a non payment on a lawsuit with Mr Miller of Arena Tavern.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.