How can a restaurant get away with taking $2 an hour in tips away from employees? Well, two southwestern Michigan restaurants aren't getting away with it any more.

WWMT reports that Sophia's House of Pancakes, with locations in Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo, are being ordered to pay $245,000 in back wages and damages to 118 employees.

Per a Department of Labor press release, investigators found Sophia's Pancake House and the owners, John and Peter Philis, guilty of making servers pay $2 per hour from their tips to the employer, failing to accurately record employees' hours and earnings, and discriminating against a worker who blew the whistle on the restaurant's pay practices.

Mary O'Rourke, district director for the Wage and Hour division in Grand Rapids, said in the release,

"Tips are the property of the workers, and must be retained by them except where a valid tip-pooling arrangement is in place that includes only tipped workers. We see far too many violations of this nature in the restaurant industry, where low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to unfair labor practices. Often, their employers take advantage of them. The terms of this consent judgment should serve as a wake-up call to other restaurants attempting to short workers in this manner."

Sophia's House of Pancakes was also ordered to retrain managers and install a point-of-sale systems to more accurately track pay information.

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