Waiters at Harvard facilities sue over tips

The Crimson reports waiters at the Harvard Faculty Club and Loeb House filed suit last week, alleging mandatory "gratuity" surcharges added to bills there never go to them. The suit comes as the Harvard Club, a private institution across the river, agreed to a $4 million settlement over the same issue.



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What is it

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with these foo-foo institutions, restaurants, and other venues whose business model appears to be predicated on paying their workers sh*t and screwing them over every chance they get?

But remember these are the

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But remember these are the same rich liberal people and institutions which pretend to care about the little guy every election cycle.

You can get your citation

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You can get your citation when you provide the appropriate copyright link and credit to XKCD for that comic.


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xkcd is Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-commercial) licensed. Randall has a pretty liberal sharing policy. That said, it's best to link XKCD comics back to his website, as he requests at http://xkcd.com/license.html

fair enough

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but since when do we need linkbacks in buried comments by anon comments on local sites. If you don't know it's the famous XKCD, I don't think you'd care.

I do agree though in the case of front topics posts / stories. But MEME's have their own way of propagating through the tubes and becoming MEME's. This comic being one.

Sometimes they even jump the digital divide:


Hows that for meta?


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Did you, perhaps, mean

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Did you, perhaps, mean frou-frou (or froufrou)???

"Adjective: frou-frou (comparative more frou-frou, superlative most frou-frou)
Frilly; heavily ornamental; fancy; overly elaborate, particularly as regards clothing."

Hmm, most of the online dictionaries just have it listed as a noun, but I've always encountered it as an adjective, used as above (from wiktionary).

My favorite definition....

Hmm, most of the online dictionaries just have it listed as a noun, but I've always encountered it as an adjective, used as above (from wiktionary).

I've best encountered it as a duo containing a dude who is a great musician and songwriter, and a woman who is a fantastic songwriter and singer.

Stealing tips is common

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This happens a lot. It has happened to friends. Don't forget the hourly wage for waiters and bartenders is only $2.63 per hour. If you make less than the $8 minimum wage during a shift, the business is supposed to make up the difference, but they usually do not. Restaurants will also require "side work," which is basically getting the lowest paid staff to do work unrelated to their job, like emptying trash, moving equipment, and unloading trucks.

Fines will not stop the theft. Criminal prosecutions of managers will. If the accountant embezzles, that is what happens, it should be the same when management steals from employees.

It happened to my sister when she was a server in college

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They were all college students waiting at a restaurant on Cape Cod during the summer to make money for school. The owner skimmed a lot of their tips so in the fall, they all sued him for the tips. Turns out, he kept track of all the tips he took from the girls and put it into his general ledger under some kind of BS misc revenue.

They sued the owner, he declared bankruptcy and the judge was so po'd that he moved these girls to the front of the line of people/institutions he had to pay back.

It took a year but they got their money. I'm really proud of three college girls suing a restaurant to get their fair share of the money.

I bet

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he joined the Teaparty.

Staff at the Harvard Faculty

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Staff at the Harvard Faculty Club are paid more than the waitstaff minimum wage.

But I still think it's dishonest to both customers and staff to have a mandatory surcharge that feels like a tip but isn't.

I guess they want to make their list prices comparable to regular restaurants, but I still think if there's a no tipping policy, then the price you see is the price you pay (plus tax).

Not so dramatic

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These aren't cases where an employer is swiping bills off the table before the server can get them. The MA tips law is fairly complicated; has been amended several times recently; is strict liability, meaning there's no good-faith defense; and has mandatory punitive damages. If employer doesn't have the right fine print on the bottom of a receipt, then it could be in violation. It doesn't mean the employer is evil, intended to screw its waiters, or even that the waiters lost anything in the first place.

But it is great if you're a plaintiffs' lawyer.


Then again...

The MA tips law is fairly complicated;

If an employer collects $X from the surcharge, and only distributes $Y back to its employees, where X>Y, then said employer fucked over his employees.

There, simple enough. ;-)

Admin charges

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A restaurant or whatever can charge an administrative fee on top of the bill, legally, but it needs to have a disclaimer with the precise magic words. If you're missing the precise magic words, then you (arguably) violate the statute and have to pay that fee to the waiters. Great for redistributing income, but not exactly fair.

"Nothing in this section shall prohibit an employer from imposing on a patron any house or administrative fee in addition to or instead of a service charge or tip, if the employer provides a designation or written description of that house or administrative fee, which informs the patron that the fee does not represent a tip or service charge for wait staff employees, service employees, or service bartenders."


Spare me the legal BS

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Even if the waitstaff is getting more than $2.63 or $8 per hour, listing a "service" or "administrative" charge on the bill is deceptive. Most people do not look that closely at the bill. The house is stealing, from their patrons, and their staff.

Don't shoot the messenger

In all fairness, Lunchbox is just quoting the law. Like it or not, it always comes down to the legal BS. I agree that it is deceptive.

I was on a trip somewhere where the place I stayed had a similar surcharge. They tacked on 15% as a service charge. Here's a quote from the website:

Service Charge: A 15% service charge is added to the dining and lodging portion of your bill.

Since this was a semi-remote place where all meals were included, one would assume that this $$$ goes to the staff, and for a week's stay, it ends up being a pretty good chunk of change. After talking with some of the staff and other locals, I found out that the staff doesn't exactly get all of the 15%, and that left a sour taste. Same thing with this Harvard club.

Harvard Alumnus supports waitstaff until court rules on facts

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It is admirable that the Harvard Club of Boston and/or the Harvard Faculty Club offer their employees certain pay and benefits. However, we are a nation built on the rule of law and in this instance it appears that it is a reasonable law to require proper and full disclosure. In the absence of proper or even fair disclosure it is not just ethical but appears to be legally obligatory for Management to share the additional monies (tips, gratuity, service charge). Disclosure on a menu is good but not always sufficient depending on wording or other circumstances. Additionally, any prudent and reasonable person that gives a cash tip (not service charge) has the expectation that it will go to the intended recipient. Interfering or improperly handling this aspect raises legitimate legal questions under current law. Harvard Alumni generally represent the best and brightest minds in the world. As a Harvard Alumnus I should be able to add ethical and prudently caring to that list as well, unfortunately this is not the case for all. As an Alumnus I have had multiple incidences (2 years ago) over a one year period with the Management of the Harvard Club of Boston where they exercised unethical obstruction of membership to certain groups of Harvard Students. Sounds ludicrous I know, nonetheless, in these instances the Management have the education and resources to know the unethical and potentially illegal nature of their activities. It may be time for the Harvard Community as a whole to exercise the social responsibility of disassociating and/or terminating those staff or alumni that don't hold to the same values the majority of us strive for and adhere to. These incidences large or small impact the Harvard brand name and that in turn impacts all employees, faculty, and alumni.