This story follows a recent college graduate who found himself embroiled in a sticky situation at his first job post-graduation.
He Worked as a Server To Pay Off His Student Debts
Let’s travel back in time, about a decade ago, when Ron had just graduated from college and found himself working at a local Peruvian restaurant as a host turned server and bartender.
This joint was a family-owned establishment, with Carlos as the original owner, his son Pedro taking the reins as the current owner, and his other son Luis acting as General Manager.
First things first, Ron would like you to know that this family was universally disliked.
It was an all-too-common occurrence for an employee to make a small mistake and find themselves on the receiving end of a tirade from any of the three family members.
They Were Constantly Faced With Raging Profanities
While Pedro seemed to be the worst, Ron couldn’t overlook Carlos’s behavior either, even though he was no longer in charge.
Fortunately for Ron, his limited Spanish, and Carlos’s limited English spared him from direct dealings with Carlos.
However, Pedro and Luis had no such language barrier and didn’t hesitate to shower employees with profanities when they deemed it necessary.
Now, we’ve all had our fair share of abusive bosses, haven’t we? But this story isn’t just about abuse; it’s about something far more insidious: theft.
The Bosses Would Cherry-Pick the Workload
You see, despite being the manager, Luis also served as one of the primary servers for an extended period.
This became particularly infuriating on slow nights when only a handful of servers, including Luis, were vying for tables.
To compound matters, Luis would often cherry-pick the larger parties for himself, leaving the other servers to contend with smaller tables.
They had designed the rotation system to distribute diners evenly among the servers.
… And Be Light-Fingered With the Tips
However, when Luis snagged a party of ten, it meant that everyone else had to handle multiple smaller tables until they, too, had served ten customers.
Only then would Luis bother to take on additional tables. Essentially, Luis did less work, served fewer tables, and yet managed to rake in just as many tips!
But wait, there’s more to this tale of deception! The tip-out at the end of the night was another thorny issue.
Although hard evidence eluded Ron and his coworkers, there was an overpowering suspicion that Pedro and Luis tampered with the numbers after collecting the tip-out money meant for the busser and bartenders.
And Under-The-Table Payments
Let’s paint a picture: Imagine the servers turned in $100 in tip-out for one busser and one bartender. Well, it turned out that the bartender might walk away with a generous $45 while the busser would end up with a measly $40.
Sadly, conclusive proof remained elusive since Luis maintained a tight grip on the accounting sheet, leaving the rest of the staff in the dark.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of under-the-table payments.
Ron discovered that everything operated off the books, with no hourly wages for servers and kitchen staff receiving mere pennies on the dollar because they were deemed “illegal.”
He and His Co-Workers Were Disgusted With Their Ethics, or Lack Of
It was a shocking display of theft and exploitation that disgusted Ron and his coworkers.
However, the staff wasn’t about to take this lying down.
They devised their own clever ways to combat the rampant theft, resorting to collecting cash payments for certain items and conveniently “forgetting” to input them into the system.
It was a small act of rebellion, their way of balancing the scales. Looking back, it might not have been the smartest approach, but desperation often breeds creativity.
Enough Was Enough! It Was Time for Payback
Enough was enough for Ron. He reached a breaking point. He couldn’t continue living on next to nothing, especially with student loan payments looming overhead.
And he knew his coworkers were suffering just as much.
Determined to seek justice, Ron picked up the phone and dialed the local Department of Labor office to submit a formal complaint for wage theft. It was time to bring Carlos, Pedro, and Luis’s illicit activities into the light.
Unsurprisingly, the family was livid when they discovered that they were under investigation.
They’d Been Caught Red-Handed!
As soon as the inspections commenced, they scrambled around in a panic, instructing certain employees to leave, take breaks, or find hiding spots so they wouldn’t be on the staffing records!
Deep down, they knew they had been caught red-handed and were fully aware of the illegalities they had been perpetrating.
However, they still clung to the hope that by manipulating the records during the inspection, they could avoid paying certain employees altogether.
Yet, justice has a way of prevailing. After an exhaustive investigation, the Department of Labor delivered its verdict: they ordered the restaurant to pay fair wages to its employees, along with a significant sum in back wages.
He Instigated a Smug Victory
Ron couldn’t believe his luck when he received a settlement of around $10,000 in installments over the following year. It was a hard-fought victory, and he relished every penny he rightfully earned.
But the best part of it all? The cunning family never once suspected Ron to be the whistleblower.
He had played his cards close to his chest, quietly working among them for at least a year or more after the incident.
He loved the satisfaction of knowing that he had outsmarted the devious trio who had been stealing from their own employees.
Have you ever been in a situation similar to Ron’s? What did you do?
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.