Everyone is having a hard time right now. Even if they don't know it. Everyone is getting smacked financially. Even if their Master hasn't demanded they drop their pants just yet, it's coming.
A spanking fest is coming to a restaurant near you.
Now it's time to weed out the doe eyed culinary graduates from the serious, stamina-strong line cooks. The hope is that fewer restaurants mean fewer shoemakers. Or, shoemakers will be all that's left when the good cooks and chefs go to where they're appreciated, paid on time and cooking food with integrity.
Now is the time, Restaurant Owners, to take that arithmetic class you've been waiting for. Because those percentages? They ain't on your side. And chefs? Just because you're a damn fine cook with mad skillz, shiny whites in your mouth and around your puffed-out chest, don't mean you can run a kitchen.
Someone more adept at this than I said last March 20th, "It's going to be just like the 90's and the Dot Com Bust: a clearing out is going to happen. And many restaurants will fall, only to leave the strong ones standing."
People will see some of their favourite restaurants close. Busy places that, 'must be doing really well.'
And so it begins. Only those restaurants with money in the bank, money set aside and gathering what little strength it can; so one day [soon] those innocent pieces of paper will grow up to be a magic carpet ride, gathering up the house to carry it through these brutal times.
As a good friend of mine says, I want to hit the 'do what I want, dammit' button right about now. But I can't. I waited and pieced together what I could here until another land seemed better. Any land with a job, in fact, seemed better.
But I took a question recently that made my heart sink. And then my blood boiled.
"What can I do if my employer is not paying
And I remembered. I remembered walking to work one morning in the Flatiron district in NYC. I passed a large, hip restaurant where I knew the latest and former sous chef, and some of the cooks, and I looked at the front door and kept walking. And then I did a double-take. A double-take that can only happen on the early morning empty streets of New York City.
I saw a chain with links the size of my torso wrapped around the whole building with a padlock bigger than my arm span holding it together. I thought I might be on a movie set. And then I saw the flourescent sticker. "City Closure. Do Not Enter Premises."
Bouncing payroll is illegal and paying employees cash is not optimal, but not paying people at all? It's really illegal.
Because you know why? The money you are giving your workers is for HOURS THAT THEY HAVE ALREADY WORKED. The check you sign is not a fucking gift. It's not a thank you note or a bouquet of flowers for bedding you.
When you hire someone, whether they are "on the books" or off, you make an agreement with them, albeit an uneven one. Your employees do not owe you anything past the agreement, least of all sympathy for your mismanagement of the money they help you earn.
Do you work in a restaurant that is withholding your pay? Are you a waiter whose house is taking your tips? Are you a sometimes worker who gets a heavy envelope some weeks and a light one on others? Have you agreed to be a "Consultant" without getting anything in writing from those lovely people who seem nice enough but won't answer your emails after you've invoiced them? Is your boss absent on payday?
If you work in California the labor laws are written for employees. This is not true for all States and not all countries. If you work in San Francisco you may speak to a real person anonymously to find out your rights or just sneak into a nondescript office to pick up pamphlets. In many languages, not just English.
An injury against one is an injury against us all.
Here are some links that will help you:
Minimum Wage questions?
Office of Labor Standards Enforcement has many links leading to all sorts of amazing resources.
A few California Labor Lawyers, Should you get serious about fighting The Man.
Are you a low wage earner? Is English your second language? The Legal Aid Society, Employment Law Center serves you directly.
Questions about Paydays, Pay periods and Final Wages? Want to know exactly what law your employer is breaking given your individual circumstance? The California Department of Industrial Relations is your place to visit. Take a seat.
"Violations by an employer of any of the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders respecting payment of the minimum wage, payment of overtime, failure to give meal and/or rest periods, reimbursement for uniforms, payroll record keeping, and cash shortages." This is just one paragraph from the California Government site concerning filing a claim with The Bureau of Field Enforcement.
And last, but definitely not least, you may file a claim against your employer by tracking down the information also on the Ca. Gov site. You can be an employee or a former employee. We're not talking Mad Max here, you will only be doing what's right for you, your fellow workers and the employees that might come after you, if the restaurant stays afloat. It's called a WAGE CLAIM and you can find out more by visiting 455 Golden Gate Avenue, SF, Ca. or going to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement = DLSE, near you.
Even if you go to a DLSE merely for educational purposes, it's a long-lasting educational tool. Knowing your rights can be a blessing and a curse, as my grandmother would say. It has been both for me.
If you want to stay a wage earner your whole career than you don't need any of this advice. But the minute you turn into a manager/ owner/ partner enforcing local and federal labor laws, you'll need this bit of schooling. Better to get it now and keep it in the tool box, sharp, for a rainy day spell such as this one.