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Coyote Ugly Saloon Sued for Overtime Violations, Retaliation

April 29, 2013

Coyote Ugly Saloon, the bar made famous from the 2000 film of the same name, is reportedly being sued in a class action wage and hour lawsuit by nearly fifty current and former bartenders/dancers who are accusing the saloon of denying them overtime payment.

Anaheim, CA-based attorney Vincent Howard has been following this lawsuit that accuses Coyote Ugly Saloon Development Corp. of failing to pay 37 former and current bartenders from Coyote Ugly Nationwide, and 10 former bartenders of the Nashville-based Coyote Ugly, for overtime work performed.

Coyote Ugly is known for having bartenders and female customers regularly dance on the bar--as portrayed in the film starring Tyra Banks and Piper Perabo. The bartenders filed a class action lawsuit in 2011, alleging that Coyote Ugly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by making the bartenders work overtime, and requiring them to share and pool their tips with bouncers and barbacks.

The wage and hour lawsuit accuses Coyote Ugly of engaging in a tip pool that was against FLSA regulations, because the bouncers were allowed to take 5 percent from the gross tips. Under the FLSA, a valid tip pool includes employees who regularly or customarily receive tips, such as bartenders, bussers and waitstaff, but not any employees who do not customarily receive tips or their services.

Coyote Ugly reportedly claimed that the bouncers, or security guards, played an integral role in assisting bartenders and customers, and were therefore entitled to the tips percentage. The bouncers also claimed that they sometimes filled in and performed the role of the barback, who stocks bars, cleans counters, and changes beer kegs, and are tipped 10 percent from the daily tips.

As Vincent Howard discussed in a previous Newport Beach employment lawyers blog, the FLSA mandates that employers are required to pay non-exempt employees with $7.25 per hour in minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime compensation of one and one-half the employee's normal compensation rate for hours worked beyond forty hours in a workweek.

Employers are required to pay tipped employees at least $2.13 per hour in direct wages, with the knowledge that these wages plus the employee's tips must total at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If the sum of the employee tips combined with the amount of direct wages do not total the federal minimum wage, the difference must be covered by the employer.

After the wage and hour lawsuit was filed, Liliana Lovell, the president and founder of Coyote Ugly reportedly wrote an entry on her blog and Coyote Ugly's website making disparaging comments about a bartender/plaintiff and the FLSA violation lawsuit. Then the company's director of operations, Daniel Huckaby also reportedly posted a disparaging post on Facebook about one of the other bartenders in the lawsuit. Both bartenders then filed individual lawsuits for retaliation.

In Corona, Escondido, and Fontana, California, contact Howard Law, PC for questions about your wage and hour issue in the workplace. Call Vincent Howard for a free consultation today at 1-800-872-5925.

Coyote Ugly accused of denying overtime pay, The Tennessean, April 17, 2013

Coyote Ugly Sued for Retaliating Against Employees via Social Media, Lawyers.com, April 23, 2013

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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