Popular Cafe forced to pay $89,000 after ‘tip mishandling’
Square Café, a popular diner on S. Highland Avenue in East Liberty, will compensate its employees with $89,000 in back wages following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor into allegations of tip mishandling.
The investigation stemmed from reports filed by restaurant servers claiming that their earned gratuities were not distributed in accordance with federal labor laws. Under these laws, tips are to be shared exclusively among employees directly interacting with customers, including servers, busboys, and hosts. However, server accounts indicated that kitchen staff were also receiving a portion of the tips.
Former server Blue Leigh, speaking on behalf of the affected employees, highlighted the lack of transparency regarding tip distribution. “We repeatedly requested a breakdown of the tip allocation and the recipient parties, but our inquiries were not addressed,” Leigh stated.
In response to the investigation, Square Café has agreed to pay $89,000 in restitution to 44 impacted employees. Owner Sherree Goldstein acknowledged the issue in a public statement, noting that “in consultation with legal counsel and the Department of Labor, Square Café has implemented a revised tip-sharing structure compliant with federal regulations.”
Established in 2010, Square Cafe has become a go-to spot for locals looking for hearty, locally sourced meals. Their menu features a mix of classic breakfast and lunch items, such as eggs benedict, french toast, and avocado toast.