SAN FRANCISCO — Nine current and former employees of Mission Beach Café, where the line for brunch stretches around the corner most weekends, filed a lawsuit today alleging, among other things, that they are unable to cash their paychecks due to insufficient funds, they are not paid regularly, and they usually don’t receive pay stubs.
“It has been demeaning and demoralizing to have to ask for my paycheck,” says Curtis Schmenizel, one of the workers, who has worked at the café since May 2013. “It’s hard not knowing with certainty when I’m going to be paid. And then, when I cannot cash my paycheck, or it bounces, I have to worry about how I am going to make rent and pay other bills.”
The complaint alleges basic wage-and-hour compliance issues, including failure to pay minimum wage, overtime, split shift premiums, sick leave, or tips in a timely manner, or to provide meal periods and health care contributions (required in San Francisco), in addition to a variety of record keeping and pay stub offenses.
“Workers depend on their wages to pay basic life necessities. That’s why California has strong workplace protections to ensure prompt and full payment of earned wages,” said Anna Kirsch, a visiting associate law professor and supervising attorney at the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic, Golden Gate University School of Law, and one of the attorneys representing the workers in this case. “California law prohibits employers from using tips to meet their minimum-wage obligations, as the workers allege, but café servers are forced to live off their tips when their paychecks bounce.”
“I love this restaurant — the neighborhood feel, the customers, the food — and I want to keep working here,” says Dylan Germick, a server at the Café since 2007. “I believe this could be an even better, more dignified workplace.”
“There is no reason a great restaurant can’t also be a great workplace,” says Carole Vigne, senior staff attorney and director of the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work, another lawyer for the workers. “The sorts of violations alleged in the complaint are far too common in the restaurant industry. It is incredible that these workers, most of them current employees, feel so invested in and committed to their workplace that they want to try to bring about positive change.”
About Legal Aid at Work:
Legal Aid at Work (formerly Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center) delivers on the promise of justice for low-income people. We provide free direct services through our clinics and helplines. We offer extensive legal information for free online and in trainings, we litigate individual and class actions, and we advocate for new policies and laws.
About GGU Law’s Women’s Employment Rights Clinic (WERC):
The Women’s Employment Rights Clinic (WERC) is a clinical law program at Golden Gate University School of Law. Over the past 20 years, WERC has partnered with community based organizations, advocating for the rights of low-wage and immigrant workers through direct service, impact litigation and public policy work.