Attorney General Ellison recovers back pay and overtime owed restaurant workers

The Bartmann Companies pays employees more than $230K for back wages, overtime wages, and damages

August 6, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that as part of his office’s investigation, restaurant group the Bartmann Companies has paid and will pay its employees more than $230,000 to compensate them for its failure to pay employees all the wages they were owed on time. As an outcome of the Attorney General’s investigation, the Bartmann Companies have already paid employees $98,980.94 in back wages and $66,105.92 in overtime wages that they were owed, and under the terms of an Assurance of Discontinuance filed yesterday in Ramsey County District Court, the Bartmann Companies will pay an additional $66,105.92 in liquidated damages. The restaurant group also agreed to stayed civil penalty of $100,000 that the State can seek if the group materially violates its obligations to follow Minnesota law regarding the payment of wages in the next eight years.  

In addition, the Bartmann Companies will send to the Attorney General’s Office the total amount of any uncashed checks that it has sent to its employees for back wages and overtime wages. The Office will distribute that money directly to those employees who have not cashed those checks. 

The settlement resolves an investigation by Attorney General Ellison’s office into the company’s wage-payment practices.  

“Everyone should take home every dollar they earn, including overtime wages. It’s hard enough for people to afford their lives: when wages are stolen or illegally withheld, it’s that much harder,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’m pleased that the Bartmann Companies was willing to cooperate with my Office and to make things right with its workers. I hope that the damages these employees will receive help repair some of the harm to them from not getting all of the wages they were owed under the law on time.”  

The Bartmann Companies is a Minnesota-based restaurant group that consists of numerous restaurants in the Twin Cities area. The Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into the Bartmann Companies after it was brought to the Attorney General’s attention that the Bartmann Companies had laid off workers during the COVID-19 shutdowns without paying employees their last paychecks.  After beginning an investigation and interviewing workers, the Attorney General’s Office discovered overtime violations in addition to the missed payroll, including that employees worked more than 40 hours per week for multiple Bartmann Companies restaurants without being paid the overtime wages they were owed under the law. 

As a result of the settlement, affected workers will receive their full back wages owed as well as the overtime liquidated damages to which they are entitled by Minnesota law. The settlement also requires the Bartmann Companies to put a written overtime policy in place that specifically addresses sharing workers between companies. The settlement in no way waives any employee’s right to seek anything that they believe they are owed that they were not paid under the settlement.  

Wage theft is endemic in the restaurant industry. Restaurant workers are subject to overtime violations, tip loss through tip pooling, and increasingly through the use of mandatory service fees to customers, the purpose and ultimate destination of which is unclear.  

Workers with concerns or complaints about violations of state and federal wage laws can contact the Attorney General’s Office through its online complaint form or by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).  

A copy of the Assurance of Discontinuance is available on Attorney General Ellison’s website.