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Has this happened to you?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone; Ten days ago I was hired as the cook in a vegan cafe. I'm not vegan, but have experience with vegan cooking. I took over the prep, cooking, inventory, the works. There was also lots of baking, something I didn't have tons of experence in. But I just jumped in and got the job done. I was told that Fridays were pay days. Okay, fine. I go in this morning, and I find out that one of the girls working the counter hasn't recieved her last two pay checks. She also said that you have to keep on the owners and bust thier chops to get your pay checks. One of the owners comes in and I say, "so when do we get payed, I'd like to run to the bank". He just looked at me and said that he didn't know. Whenever the "office" gets the checks, he'll give them out. And he walked away, and then commented on how he wants the cheesecake to be just as good as the last batch I did. I saw fire; I said, no pay no work as he walked away. Ten minutes later his son shows up and wants to clear up any miss communication. Long story short, he said that I wasn't getting paid for the days I worked last week. The day I trailed I didn't expect to get paid, of course not. But the next day, where I was alone the whole afternoon and the next day where I was alone cooking again. He tried to tell me that was just training. Are you kidding me??? If they wanted me to trail those days, fine. Then I wouldn't expect to get paid. But I was working as the only cook. All the circle talk he was feeding me was killing me. In the end the bull**** was getting to high, and we both agreed not to continue my employment. Now I know why the last cook left. It was a shame because this is what I was really looking for. I'm willing to put in the hours, and do fine work. Plus being a vegan cafe, there was a chance for me to work with products that were new to me. I guess I'm just venting and thanks for listening to my rant. I guess it's back on craiglist looking for a job. Have a good night everyone.
post #2 of 19
best o'luck
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
post #3 of 19
Don't know much about your State(NY) but your options are as follows:

Go to the State Labour Board and tell them your story. You've got good odds of getting some money, maybe not all, but some. It won't cost you anything.

If anything, the Labour Board will light a fire under the owner's butt.

Do not contact the owner or his boys
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 19
Take this to small claims court. The paperwork is small and filing costs are under $20.00 in most municipalities. You've been swindled. The restaurant owner should be informed that a judgment against him could result in the loss of license(s) to run his restaurant. No matter what you did in that restaurant during the time you were there, the owner is obligated, by law, to pay you your agreed upon wage.
post #5 of 19


1) Small claims has no teeth. You may win in court, but the court can not, and will not get you your money they awarded to you.

2) By the time you get your case heard in small claims, many things can happen, like the resto changing hands, shutting down, etc.

3)The labour board is free, is far more experienced in these matters, and, mot importantly-- will act immediately. Those boys have the power--and use it frequently--- to garnishee money from the employer's bank. No court can do this.

Ask any employer, any contractor, and any scam artist--small claims is a joke. Stay far, far away from it, c'mon Rsteve, I though you were smarter than that.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #6 of 19
Walk away...just chalk it up to bad luck....
Its the last decade its the potential employee who has to
do the due diligence...These days it pays to know who you are working for
and basically have someone you know reccommend them to you.

Same goes for renting used to be the owner who rented the
property asking for a credit because of all the foreclosures, it
makes sense to do a credit check on the owner....its all kinda flipflopped....
post #7 of 19
Vandal the outside of the store with meat products. Justice by rotten meat will bring closure
post #8 of 19
You are making the fatal mistake of assuming that there is a "Labour Board" to which the complaintant may address his issue.

New York is not in Canada.

I would not recommend this be taken to Concilliation Court; Small Claims Court in New York may allow a claim up to $7500. Any judgment granting court has the power "command" payment, however, the greatest sanctioning power they have to assure payment is made is to revoke licensure. This can be for anything from a restaurant license to license to teach or practice medicine. A grievance made to the New York Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards may take years to resolve and there's minimal sanctioning authority when there is no union/management issue.
post #9 of 19
Nope, can't agree with that one. In my Province it's the Employer who has to do due diligence, or to use the legal-ese that the Labour Board and Worker's Comp use: "The onus is on the employeer". Many employers are no "outsourcing" (private contract) or getting the employees to sign contracts, therfore by-passing the labour board in order to protect themsleves from fraudulent claims. I've fought off three such claims, and when the dust settles, you are not entitled to any compensation for time/money spent, nor are you entitled to an acknowledgement from the Labour Board or the ex-employee that the claim was indeed fraudulent. Just another a-hole/eejit employer ready to get suckered again, now shut up and get back to work and hire some more people so we can get this economy going again, Capeesh eejit? Needless to say many have come to the conclusion that, in this province anyway, employees are more a liability than an asset.

Maybe it's different in the States, I hope so. Now get back to work so we can pay for the pension bennies for all those GM workers and the Wall Street financial moguls........
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 19
I think that has always been the most wise course to follow.
post #11 of 19
Fair enough, if such a court has "teeth" or some way to make the defendant pay up--revoking licenses, then you have a decent chance. My apologies. Good on the court for finding some way to get leverage.

Mind you, most Small Claims work on the principal that the claimant pays the registration fee, and that notifiying the defendant is the Claimant's responsibility --at his cost. No-shows from either party throw a wrench in the whole process. Is this so in NY? And the docket? Average length it takes to get the case heard? If the restaurant in question isn't paying thier staff on time or not all, odds are that it won't be around longer than the next 6 mths.

As you can see, my experiences with Small Claims have been, "a learning experience" in which I was awarded over $5,000 but am still waiting--close to 10 years now, for any money to show up.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #12 of 19
In all cases, the individual who files must file the initial docket fees. If he/she wins his case, the damage award will include filing fees, court costs, and damages. If he/she loses, even if the opposing party doesn't cross file, he'll have to pay the filing fee, which may include the court cost.If either party is a no-show it's generally a default decision in favor of the party who appears in court. There are exceptions and extenuating circumstances in which the court will grant a continuance. Ideally, a case will be heard within 30-90 days, but in these litigious days, it will always depend on how many cases are filed. I hate to say it, but there are any number of establishments whose owners pay themselves, first, then they pay their employees. Any judgment is meaningless if there are no assets from which to collect.
post #13 of 19
I'm not licensed to practice in New York -- so don't consider this "legal advice."

As far as I know, you can file a claim with the Department of Labor and in the Small Claims Court as well without one invalidating the other. You might want to contact "Legal Aid" or a similar, private group like Beit Tzedek to get a definitive answer on that.

If you can file in both places, obviously you won't be able to collect twice but you can go further towards getting even and making sure those azzles never do it again.

I don't know how long it takes to pursue a Department of Labor claim in New York -- epsecially during the current recession when most agencies are operating at emergency only levels. Nevertheless, you should probably go ahead and file a complaint. It can always be withdrawn. Here's a link to the form:

Money aside, the Department of Labor can make sure they cut the cra% in the future. The court will lose all interest as soon as (if ever) you get paid.

Assuming you prevail in Small Claims, collecting from an unwilling debtor can require some energy. Nevertheless, in the case of an employer with any kind of assets at all -- bank account, automobiles, income, etc., it can usually be done. At the end of the day you may have to have a Sheriff's Deputy sit by the cash register every night and seize the receipts as they come in -- but that IS something you can do. Usually, making the arrangements is enough to bring an employer to cooperate.

I'm not in your area, and don't have all the information. And in any case, I wouldn't do all the work for you. Despite the fact that neither applies to you exactly and one is quite dated, you might find these sites helpful as you plan your claim: A Guide to Small Claims Court

By the way, depending on your jurisdiction (county), you may be able to file a Small Claims Complaint on the internet. Make sure you understand and comply with all the rules for "Service" and "Process."

Note that the second site implies that if you bring some energy and some willingness to find out what your options are you can collect.

In my opinion, letting it go and "chalking it up to experience," is the worst possible advice. It's just giving up and you're better than that. The least you can do is let them know not to screw with the kid. Get your money, make 'em remember you as someone they couldn't mess with, and prevent them from doing it again.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for the good advice. I managed to get a few bucks for my time last week. They gave me cash. I told the owners I'll be back next week for this weeks pay. They agreed, but we'll see. If I don't get what I'm owed then yes, I'm going to the labor department and make a complaint. I also took pictures of the kitchen so I could prove I was there. I am just still floored that people would act like this. It's the first time this has happened to me in any job. It really took me by suprise. But I'm wiser now. Looking back there were red flags but I needed a job so badly I just over looked certain things. I know better now. And what really PO'd me was as I was putting my knives away, the owner was looking at the knife strip and noticing it was empty except for a couple paring knives, looked at my knife roll and made a gesture suggesting, that I took his knives. I just looked at him and said, " I don't need your Ikea knives". And that was it. I told him all the good things in the kitchen belonged to the last cook who worked there and he took it all back. Again everyone thank you for reading and posting. I'll keep you updated on what happens. Bye for now.
post #15 of 19
Do this and you could end up behind bars. The owner could have you arrested and press charges, as legally one act has nothing to do with other.

The guy or owners are sleezeballs.
I agree with BDL Dont let them get away with it. Use any legal recourse you have to get back at them.
File a lein if possible. You may not collect now but when they go to sell the business, they cant without satisfying your lien with interest. It also looks bad when they apply for credit with any company and a lien is on their report. At least it works like that here in Florida.:D
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Again, thank you everyone for all the advice and support. I'm going to meet with the owners tommorow evening and try and get the rest of my money. So far they seem to be playing along. Hopefully it'll be taken care of then.

Meanwhile I was hired as a Sous Chef at an organic market where we will speicalize in Vegan food. It's funny how things work out. Not in a hundred years would I have ever thought that when I started cooking that my biggest selling point to employers would be my experience in Vegan cuisine. I'm going to run with it, who knows. My hours are pretty normal so I'm thinking about working one or two nights someplace else. In my short two and a half years, I've done some really interesting things. The one thing I'm lacking is some good old fashion line cooking in a typical restaurant. I have worked as a line cook in a bar, but I don't count I'm sorry to any bar cooks, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I think you all know what I'm trying to say. So life is looking up these days. Take care everyone.
post #17 of 19
Can't speak for any other state, but in MN you file a complaint at the employment office. They do not take these claims lightly, and if I'm not mistaken, can't include employee wages in bankruptcy claims. In MN, if you worked, you get paid no matter what. Technically, terminated employees are supposed to be paid within 24 hours of dismissal. You may be able to collect unemployment over this too. State laws vary, so check with the employment office in your state. Doesn't cost anything and all they can do is say no. Sounds like the place is having financial problems to me.
post #18 of 19
that sucks pretty bad.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
When I was living in Vermont I had an issue with an imployer in a different field. They were holding my final pay check because I lost my company ID card. (Yes, stupid of me to lose it. I agree.) I went right to the state and within two days the state of Vermont called my manager. The next day they gave me my check. I'm sure it's the same here in NY; well I would like to think so.

And yes, the cafe I was working for is in trouble. I mentioned red flags in one of my ealier posts. The owner mentioned that "money was tight". But he insisted that the employees were getting paid. I just needed a job so badly, that I over looked the warning signs. I learned my lesson. I went in there yesterday to collect the rest of the money they owed me. Again, there was a problem. The salary agreed upon between myself and the manager, (owners father) didn't match with the salary the owner thought I should be paid. I ended up walking out with about $150. less than I thought I was going to get. Part of me wants to just forget about them, I got something out of them and just move on. But at the same time, they were wrong. They conducted themselves in such an un professional manner; down right shady that I can't let them get away with it. I have until Monday to figure out what I want to do.
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