who do you hold responsible when a table dines & dashes?

I recently rolled out a policy (august) stating that servers are my agents on the floor, empowered to represent me and make decisions on the fly without asking my permission - to remake a pizza, cut off a drunk, accept a competitor’s coupon… and by taking on this power they take responsibility for the table’s check - if they leave without paying, the server is responsible. The server must be atop their game and connected with the table such that there’s no chance for them to ditch the bill.

Since signing the new policy the service has noticably improved. The power as well as the threat of being billed has them on top of their tables, and until last night not one table has dine & dashed.

My intention for the policy was to prod my servers into serving the hell out of their tables and now that it’s happened I’m a little nervous about the legality / normalcy of the policy.

ARE YOU SERIOUS? SO SOME JACKASS DECIDES TO RUN OUT AND NOT PAY YOU TAKE THAT OUT ON YOUR STAFF?
WHAT I WOULD LOVE TO SEE IS YOU ON THE END OF A LAWSUIT, THE WAITRESS TELLS THE JUDGE I RAN AFTER THE 2 THUGS WHO DIDN’T PAY THERE BILL AND HE HIT ME SO HARD I LOST CONSCIOUSNESS… THE JUDGE SAYS THAT WAS STUPID WHY WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT…WELL YOUR HONOR I JUST COULDN’T AFFORD TO LOSE THE PAY THIS WEEK, AND HE TURNS TO YOU AND YOU SAY?
AND TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION YES IT IS ILLEGAL TO DEDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S THEFT FROM EMPLOYEES CHECK.

I’m thinking being nervous about the legality of such a policy may be something you wanted to check into BEFORE instituting it? I don’t know for sure, never had to ask about it, but I’m under the impression that at least in our State we can’t require the staff to cover shortages, breakages or any of that stuff.

Its common practice for waiters to carry their own bank and close it at the end of their shift. As such, they are completely responsible for dine-n-dashers. Its in their interest to watch the customer and ensure they don’t dash. If it occurs, there are reporting procedures, including police reports, to follow.

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.Not only is that illegal, as you said, but it is ALSO ILLEGAL to deduct from an employee’s check: theft by THAT EMPLOYEE. You can have them arrested, or fire them, but you can’t take that money out of their check without their permission.

From the FSLA:

"Employers may not make deductions from employees’ pay for cash shortages,
stolen or damaged property,
or for deficient work. Also, employers may not require
employees to pay the cost of buying or cleaning uniforms required on the job."

You may want to rethink your policy immediately, or you WILL be sued eventually.

That’s not true. It’s only illegal if the deduction would cause the employee to make less than minimum wage. As long as the deduction doesn’t cause the employee to make less than MW, you can deduct anything you want from an employees check with or without their permission.

Same goes for the other couple of posts above, quoting the FLSA out of context and incompletely.

Given that, the original poster’s policy is insane. How could a server (or anyone for that matter) possibly force someone to pay?

If I was one of your server’s, since you empowered me to represent you and make decisions, I’d decide to give the entire meal for free to anyone that skipped out on the check.

Now what?
:lol:

On another note…I am a little confused at why this is even a “policy” to begin with. We have been in business 17 years an MAYBE had 2 dine and dashers. Seems like it was pretty frequent at your place? If it was I think the policy is great but if not seems pretty harsh.

I can see it now…Boatmens Bank employee has to repay $100,000 after being dashed by a customer. LMAO

Nuts. Just nuts. Suck it up.

BOOYAH! Therein lies the center of the logical and legal loophole in the policy. You will win that unemployment case every time . . . dismissed for doing what you were empowered to do.

The whole deduction of the check from the employee works great until you actually have to do it. Then morale, legal complications, business reputation, and erosion of the performance gains all come into play. Your service gains probably came from the empowerment and confidence. I am guessing like others, that you had problems with people ducking their tickets, and that has improved now. I contend it is from the new attention given to the customer tables. NOW, you will have to figure out if you will drop the hammer or modify the policy to something more akin to making it plain that collecting payment is their responsibility and that you will boot anyone that has a pattern/repetition/history of dine/dash incidents. You get to decide what a pattern or repetition or history is.

I am guessing like others, that you had problems with people ducking their tickets, and that has improved now. I contend it is from the new attention given to the customer tables. NOW, you will have to figure out if you will drop the hammer or modify the policy to something more akin to making it plain that collecting payment is their responsibility and that you will boot anyone that has a pattern/repetition/history of dine/dash incidents. You get to decide what a pattern or repetition or history is.

this is exactly where I’m at - service has improved and now i’m looking at ways to tweak the policy. I don’t see it as any different than carrying a server bank system and I wasn’t expecting the sarcasm and laughs up above - I hear this is a standard procedure at more corporate and cutthroat chains, which I don’t intend to be. At the same time, the financial hit to myself and my team of owners isn’t an acceptable result - “oops, i guess i wasn’t paying attention and they ducked out, sorry you don’t get paid for the meal”.

how many times a day can your owner “suck up” a $40 meal before feeling it?

If D&Ds are a problem best get some security cameras versus putting in place a policy which looks to be illegal…And even if it is not illegal it is certainly demoralizing…

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I think youre mistaken.
Is there a lawyer in the Forum?

I’m pretty sure that I’m not.

Think about it. You are only required by law to pay an employee minimum wage (unless you have some sort of written contract).

If you choose to pay someone, say, $10/hr - fine. If you suddenly decide to pay them minimum wage instead, you are within your rights to do so. Of course they might get mad and quit, but it’s not against the law.

Now, apply that to this situation. You make a deduction (for whatever) from the $10/hr persons check that causes them to make $9.50/hr. It’s legal, even if they didn’t agree to it, as long as $9.50 is at or above minimum wage in your state.

Our staff is responsible for a dine and dash that if someone does ditch the bill they are quickly to call the manager tell them when they left and we pull up the cameras. no cameras are in our restaurant or pizzeria we have oustide cameras in the parking lot that catch licence numbers what direction they left and what kind of a car it was then we call the cops and prints are made of the licence and car and a picture of the customers as we also have cameras on the side walk. we never had to use the dine and ditch scenario but it is in place that if it ever happens. it’s a good idea to invest in.

Ok I am concerned about your comment about how many $40 meals a day you and your group of owners… can afford to have people walk out on. Just how many of these situations happen around there and is it really multiple per day? I have been around restaurants my whole life in one way or another and I can maybe remember 2-3 dine & dashes total…and those usually being kids or teens on a small ticket. Yes it is a possibility with any table but like others have said… suck it up! It is bad enough if it happens but to then put the responsibility of paying for the lost dollars on your servers is just a crappy practice. You want a professional and mature staff that is well trained and works hard for you but in return you slap them on the wrist and their paycheck for something that was really out of their own control. What’s next… pay before you eat maybe? That would solve the problem. :idea:

RG I would question the legality of cutting someones wages without prior notice on hours already worked. Yes you can always lower an employees pay but you cannot do so after they have worked hours at a pre-agreed upon rate. Following your method I could hire a person at $25 an hour and when they get their first paycheck have them paid minimum wage? I do not think that would hold up in court.

Don’t you remember, I told you that your rate was going to be lower this pay period?

You are talking apple and oranges - taking someone to court over that is a contractual issue - not a FLSA violation. The Feds only care that you pay someone minimum wage - they don’t care if you told them you would pay X and end up paying Y as long as Y is => min wage.