Wage debate rages between servers, restaurants in state Capitol

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Restaurant owners and servers were in the state Capitol today to hash out a possible compromise over server wages when they aren’t earning tips.

Some 20 restaurants have been sued for underpaying wait staff, even though they were following the state's own guidelines.

Now, a new compromise bill would limit restaurant owner’s liability if they had a "good faith belief" they were following the law.

However, labor unions say the new rules are one-sided.

"It takes away [servers’] ability to go to court at all, since, in many cases, it would not pay attorney's fees,” says Sal Luciano, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “Who can pay an attorney a few thousand dollars to recoup $100 that was stolen from them?"

Restaurants say without legal protection, many of them could be out of business.

"As the minimum wage increases rapidly over the next four years, we're going to have to also have to raise prices fairly rapidly with that," says Barry Jessurun, of Green Valley Hospitality.

The debate affects 48,000 tipped workers and 8,000 bars and restaurants.

 

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