A former Conway Gusano’s server has filed a class action lawsuit against the bar and restaurant company for unlawful pay practices.
Jacqueline L. Conners, of Conway, says in the suit filed at U.S. District Court in January she entered a tip-pooling agreement with servers and other restaurant staff that did not satisfy the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Conners says the agreement was a condition of employment and shared her tips with employees who would not typically receive them, such as the kitchen’s cooks.
According to the collective action complaint, "Because Gusano’s did not operate a valid tip pool, it was required to pay Conners and its other servers at least $7.25 per hour."
Conners’ suit states Gusano’s paid her $2.75 per hour, as the restaurant takes advantage of a FLSA provision that allows her to be paid below minimum wage if she is also paid in tips.
Conners’ employment was terminated, according to the suit, and she seeks damages in an amount equal to the unpaid back wages and a return of all tips owed.
Other "similarly-situated" individuals employed within the past three years may join the suit to seek "a return of all tips owed them from a period from three (3) years prior to this lawsuit through the date of trial;."
The suit also seeks attorney’s fees.
Also joining the suit, according to court documents, are Whitney Koch, Katey Tiller, Rachelle Hobbs and Maria Campanelli.
Conners told media in November she was fired from Gusano’s for reporting to police that a patron at the restaurant was drinking while breasfeeding.
Conners confirmed her statement Friday.
The woman was arrested, according to a Nov. 21 Conway Police Department incident report, and reported to the child abuse hotline.
The lawsuit does not state the reason Conners’ employment was terminated.
The general manager at the Conway location, who identified herself by two different names, said Friday she could not comment on the lawsuit.
A message left for comment at Gusano’s corporate office in Rogers was not returned by press time Friday.