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Officials: 2 more Louisville coffee shops violated labor law, repay $188K to workers

Federal investigators found the popular local coffee shops "shortchanged workers" by allowing managers to dip into tip pools illegally.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two additional Louisville coffee shops have repaid their workers following a federal investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL).

The department's Wage and Hour Division found both Please & Thank You and Sunergos Coffee "redistributed tips and diverted workers' tips to managers improperly," according to a press release.

Officials said both companies allowed managers to dip into tip pools violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, which prohibits managers from keeping any portion of tips earned by employees.

"Federal law protects earned tips to make sure they are paid to the workers who received them for their good service," Wage and Hour District Director Karen Garnett-Civils said. "Food service workers are frequently harmed by the kind of wage violations found in the investigations here in Louisville."

Federal investigators recovered more than $108,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 55 Please and Thank You employees.

Nearly $80,000 more was recovered for 70 Sunergos workers.

According to the Wage and Hour Division, liquidated damages are "intended to compensate workers for damages they may have incurred as the result of not having been paid timely for all the wages they legally earned."

This comes just days after the DOL announced it recovered $300,000 in unpaid tips for nearly 500 workers at Heine Brothers after the company was notified it had violated the same labor law.

"Employers must follow the required criteria for operating tip pools or face costly consequences," Garnett-Civils said. "The outcome in these cases should remind industry employers to review their pay practices carefully and contact the Wage and Hour Division with questions or concerns."

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