UnderCover Waitress: Dine and Dash

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dine and Dash

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Interesting question on Avvo from a waitress in California:

I lose roughly $100 a week due to diners that do not pay. Can she legally charge me for their meals?

This happens at the little restaurant every now and then. The first time it happened to me the loss came out of my tips, the second time I think the manager came to my defense.

My colleague complained about this practice during the summer. She had numerous outside tables and was very busy. The owner still blamed her for not getting back outside quickly enough to take payment from a couple who slipped out, and she got to pay for their meal.

Seems grossly unfair, doesn't it? Add "security guard" to the long list of waitress job descriptions.

The lawyers on Avvo that answered the question said that an employer may not take business losses out of an employee's base wage, but they didn't say "tips." So, I wonder if that means the practice is legal as long as the employee still goes home with at least minimum wage for hours worked.

Another lawyer said something about the employer needed to prove that the loss was the employee's fault. Unless "security" is in our job descriptions, this is a bit much. It is our job to give good service, and leaving a person waiting to pay for too long is not the best service. However, that is no excuse for the diner to simply leave. Most people, if the waitress does not return quickly enough, walk up to the register to pay. It's a better choice.

But what really got me was the claim that she loses $100 a week due to theft?!? What crime-ridden slum is she working in? I wonder if she is safe walking a few feet from the door to her car at night?

Seriously, am I living in some "safe and happy bubble" if I don't think this degree of customer stealing is normal? Anybody?


  1. It's a $100 a WEEK, not per shift.
    Personally, I think I would start looking for a new job

  2. the corporate place i work has a policy to where we don't have to pay it but we can end up with a write-up (so guess what the server will choose).
    there are some circumstances where i can have a walk out with out worring about the write up (mostly as long as I say something to a manager then they feel that we have done everything possible)

    is Awo sure that these are walk-outs happening every week? it seems kind of excessive. i can't think of any time where i had that much in walk outs EVERY week (during fair weeks i would notice an increase over all in the restaurant (and a bunch more crappy/non-existant tips))

  3. Dear me, a write up for what? Next, we will start blaming convenience store owners when the place gets held up, and home owners for break-ins because their security wasn't tight enough.

    Interesting, thanks for commenting!


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