November 3, 2020 – Class Conditionally Certified, Notices to Be Sent
United States District Judge Keith P. Ellison has granted conditional certification to the nationwide class of TopGolf restaurant workers proposed by the lawsuit detailed on this page.
Counsel for the plaintiff is now permitted to send notices about the case via regular mail, email and text message to prospective class members (that is, those whose interests look to be represented by the suit).
ClassAction.org will update this page with any new developments. In the meantime, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here and read up on what class certification means here.
A former TopGolf employee claims in a lawsuit that she and other tipped bartenders and servers were underpaid while working at restaurants run by defendants TopGolf International, Inc. and TopGolf USA Spring Holdings, LLC.
The proposed collective action alleges that although TopGolf servers, known as “bayhosts,” and bartenders purportedly received tips to supplement their sub-minimum hourly wages, the workers were required to spend an unlawful amount of time performing non-tipped duties, as well as surrender portions of their tips to kitchen staff.
The plaintiff, who worked for TopGolf as both a bayhost and bartender, asserts in the lawsuit that employers who pay workers less than the federal minimum wage are obligated to adhere to strict tip credit requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the suit, employers subject to federal tip credit rules must:
Inform employees of their sub-minimum wage, the amount their wages will increase through tips, that they are entitled to retain all tips except those contributed to a valid tip pool, and that the tip credit does not apply to any employee who doesn’t receive notice of the tip credit;
Not require employees to give up a portion of their tips to non-tipped workers, such as kitchen staff;
Not require tipped employees to perform non-tipped work unrelated to their tipped duties; and
Not require tipped employees to spend more than 20 percent of their time on non-tipped work related to their tipped duties.
According to the suit, TopGolf has unlawfully attempted to take advantage of the FLSA’s tip credit provision without adhering to any of the above requirements. In particular, the lawsuit claims bayhosts and bartenders were not informed of the defendants’ intention to apply a tip credit to their hourly wages and were forced to surrender portions of their tips to non-tipped “muckers,” whose main duties were comprised of clearing and washing dishes and included no customer interaction.
Moreover, the plaintiff alleges that she and other tipped employees were required to perform a significant amount of untipped work both related and unrelated to their serving and bartending duties. Specifically, the plaintiff claims tipped workers spent “excessive amounts” of time, including during non-business hours, cleaning the restaurant, setting up for private events, rolling silverware, and restocking condiments. The case claims the employees were paid a sub-minimum wage rate despite their inability to earn tips while handling these tasks.
The lawsuit alleges that TopGolf could have easily differentiated between tipped and non-tipped work in employee time records by setting up separate “clock in” codes in the company’s timekeeping system, which was already programmed to allow for such.
The case further claims that some employees were not paid at all for certain tasks, such as for when bayhosts were required to act as “event ambassadors” for private parties. According to the lawsuit, event ambassadors were required to arrive at TopGolf 15 to 20 minutes before the start of their shift and, before clocking in, expected to check with managers, event coordinators and kitchen staff to find out about the specifics of the party. Despite performing such tasks for the benefit of TopGolf, employees were not paid for time spent working before the start of their scheduled shifts, the case says.
Lastly, the lawsuit alleges that bayhosts and bartenders were forced to pay for their own uniforms—non-slick shoes, black pants and black socks—further cutting into their already sub-minimum wages.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who was employed by the defendants as a bayhost or bartender for at least one week during the past three years.