Former bartenders sue Mark O's Bar and Grill in federal court

2013-02-13T15:22:00Z 2013-02-13T23:26:07Z Former bartenders sue Mark O's Bar and Grill in federal courtChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Three former bartenders of Mark O's Bar and Grill are suing the business and its owners in federal court, complaining of unpaid wages and overtime compensation.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond contends the former employees did not receive wages, only tips, for their work and weren't paid for a day of training although it required them to work behind the bar and make food and alcohol sales, according to the complaint.

The suit also alleges the bartenders had to “tip out” and share earnings with cooks, whose duties were limited to the kitchen. The former employees worked at either the Munster or Portage location of the business.

“Instead of dealing with plaintiffs' complaints about wage and hour violations, defendants found inane and baseless reasons to fire each of them after relatively short periods of employment,” according to the suit.

Messages left for business owners Mark Oprisko and Cheryl Ann Heck-Oprisko were not returned Wednesday.

The former employees state reasons they were given for unpaid wages ranged from a work uniform not being paid for, missing order tickets and money missing from a till, which the lawsuit contends is not “legitimate legal reasons for withholding all wages from an employee.”

The suit contends the practices violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and minimum wage requirements.

Former employees Jessica LaPato, of Schererville, Jennifer Bish, of Chesterton, and Kimberly Ahrens, of Lynwood, are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which is seeking payment of unpaid wages and overtime premiums. The complaint also was made on behalf of all bartenders employed on a hourly basis by Mark O's within three years of the filing, who are alleged to have been subject to the same practices.

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