Ocean City Today

Harpoon Hanna’s latest to face lawsuit for improper pay

By Brian Gilliland | Oct 26, 2017

(Oct. 27, 2017) A civil suit has been filed in Delaware against Harpoon Hanna’s, just over the line from Ocean City, that alleges an improper tip pool arrangement. It is the latest in a spate of wage-and-hour disputes that have developed in the resort area over the past year.

Three other cases involving employee claims of improper payment were resolved earlier this year.

Currently, Hooper’s Crab House, Micky Fin’s and Sunset Grille in West Ocean City are involved in legal disputes with current and former employees regarding potential violations of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law or the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act. Within the past couple of years Fat Daddy’s, Dead Freddies and Abbey Burger Bistro have settled similar cases.

The lawsuit against Harpoon Hanna’s concerns a single plaintiff, Aaron Miller, who has accused the Fenwick Island restaurant of operating an improper tip pool. Miller said in court documents he and other servers were required to participate in a tip-sharing system that included other employees who would not normally be considered eligible for tips.

He is seeking the difference between his hourly wage paid by the restaurant and Delaware’s minimum wage of $8.25 per hour for the time he worked, for a total of approximately $3,100 plus court costs.

The Tokyo Seafood Buffet on 131st Street settled a case with a single plaintiff in May for about $11,000 after being accused of failure to pay overtime, requiring employees to subsidize business costs by forcing them to pay for walkouts, failure to inform employees of standard payment policies and constructive dismissal by creating a hostile work environment.

Lawyer’s fees for this case were also directed to be paid by the defendant for about $7,500.

Also in May, the Sea Scape Motel on 16th Street settled a case for nearly $17,000 between three employees who cited a lack of paid overtime in their lawsuit. The lawyer’s fees were granted at $8,000 of the total. One plaintiff received $6,000 in unpaid overtime compensation, the second got $1,660 and the final plaintiff received $660 plus $500 for housing costs.

In late August, the Sahara Café at the corner of 19th Street and Baltimore Avenue, settled a case between two former cooks and the restaurant for more than $42,000 including about $14,000 in lawyer’s fees.

The plaintiffs were cooks at the restaurant, and alleged they were not paid overtime during their tenure in 2014 and 2015. The first plaintiff was awarded almost $11,600, and the second almost $16,500 which represents three times the unpaid overtime, which is the standard for damages in these cases.

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