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Labor Department: Fort Wayne restaurant owes back pay to 30 servers

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) — A Fort Wayne restaurant has been accused in a federal lawsuit of failing to pay $290,000 in back wages and damages to 30 servers, the U.S. Labor Department said Monday.

A news release from the department says investigators found “Hall Drive-Ins Inc. – operating as Factory Restaurant and managed by Luke Hall ­­­– committed numerous violations of federal regulations that protect food service workers’ wages.”

The lawsuit alleges Don Hall’s Factory Restaurant & Bar, which is located just south of the I-69 interchange for Coldwater Road:

  • Took servers’ tips by using a percentage of them to pay nontipped kitchen staff. The employer paid servers hourly cash wages of $2.13 or $2.65 and relied on the tips they received to make up the remainder of the employer’s minimum wage obligations. However, by diverting servers’ tips to the kitchen staff, the employer created an illegal tip pool.
  • Failed to inform servers that the employer was taking a tip credit for their wages.
  • Deducted the cost of some servers’ uniforms from their pay, which dropped their hourly wage below minimum wage.
  • Required servers to perform unpaid pre-shift work beginning 30 minutes before the restaurant opened and did not allow them to clock in until their first customer had arrived.

Aaron Loomis, director of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division District in Indianapolis, said in a statement, “After our investigation, Luke Hall agreed to change his business’ practices but refused to pay the back wages owed to nearly three dozen workers. His refusal led the U.S. Department of Labor to ask a federal court to force him to pay The Factory’s employees what they have earned. Violations like these are all-too-common in the food service industry, even by a well-established operator of 10 Fort Wayne-area restaurants.”

The Labor Department said the Factory Restaurant, founded in 1972, is one of 10 food service establishments owned by Hall Drive-Ins Inc. The others include The Deck, The Gas House, Hall’s Hollywood, Takaoka of Japan, The Tavern and Triangle Park in Fort Wayne, Hall’s Prime Rib Restaurant in East State Village, and Tap Haus and Hall’s Commissary in New Haven.