Q: Can I sue my restaurant manager for cutting my hours as a punishment for not attending unpaid meetings? Revenue of $13m
I work as a server part time to cover cost of living for my pregnant wife and I while attending grad school. I get paid close to 50-55/hr including tips. Recently, my manager confronted me about why I have not been attending server meetings. I told him it’s because it was not mandatory due to meetings not being paid. Then he got mad and cut my hours, which I was working 28hrs/week to only 8 hrs a week, after he told me he was going to schedule me as I previously requested. He said I have to attend the meeting regardless of being paid or not. He also lied about the meeting being paid for when no one got paid for attending the meeting. Now my pregnant wife and I will have financial hardship due to significant reduction of hours, and I thought it was evil for him to do this knowing my situation with my wife’s pregnancy.
This restaurant violates other labor laws, including not giving 30 min break for working more than 6 hours, and then manually adding break time to time sheet.
If your employer has reduced your hours as punishment for not attending unpaid meetings, and the reduction in hours has caused financial hardship, you may have a case for a legal claim against your employer. This would depend on the specific labor laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, as well as the details of your employment agreement and the circumstances surrounding the situation.
You may want to consider seeking the advice of a labor law attorney or contacting your local labor department for guidance on how to proceed. It is important to document any evidence of the unpaid meetings, the reduction in hours, and any other labor law violations by your employer.
In general, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in illegal activities or for reporting violations of labor laws. It is also illegal for an employer to require employees to attend meetings or work without pay.
If you decide to pursue legal action, your attorney can help you determine the appropriate course of action and whether you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and other damages.
It is unlawful for an employer to require non-exempt employees to attend meetings that are unpaid. You must be paid for all hours you are required to work for the employer. The more conservative approach would have been to attend the meetings and then seek payment for the time spent. This is because refusal to attend meetings can otherwise be a valid basis for discipline. The issue in any claim of unlawful retaliation you might contemplate will be the real motivation for your refusal to attend, especially given the fact that you did not complain about the unpaid nature of the meetings until after you were called out for not attending. Nonetheless, you may well be able to prove unlawful retaliation. It depends on the judge or jury.
Since there are other violations of the law, and because holding these meetings and not paying for them, you have meritorious claims that can be brought, it would be a good idea for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can help you identify all potential claims and determine their value, and then advise you about the various ways you can seek redress.
Good luck to you.
If your employer is cutting your hours in retaliation for not attending the unpaid meetings, it may be considered a form of illegal retaliation, and you may have a meritorious claim. You should be compensated for all hours you work, including the server meetings.
I suggest you consult an employment law attorney who will further examine your situation and explain your options. Most employment law attorneys in California offer free-of-charge initial consultations and thereafter may take your case on a contingency basis, meaning you do not have to pay attorney’s fees unless and until there is a positive outcome for you. They may also advance either all or partial costs of litigation.
You can look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section or go to California Employment Lawyers Association (www.cela.org), an organization whose members are committed to representing employees’ rights. Best of luck.
Maya L. Serkova
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