The lawsuit claims the owners kept tips away and for deducted pay that would bring an employees earnings below minimum wage.
PHOENIX — The owners of a Valley coffee company are being sued for stealing wages, according to a new lawsuit filed by former employees.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Ben and Regina Lyles, who own Bikini Beans Coffee shops across the Valley. It accuses the couple of not paying employees overtime, of keeping tips away and for deducting pay that would bring an employee’s earnings below minimum wage.
“It doesn’t matter if there was traffic,” says Valerie Valle, a former employee who is listed as one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “It doesn’t matter if there was an accident. They would justify taking our tips by splitting it among the other girls.”
12 News learned the pay deduction and loss of tips were part of a contract agreement signed by employees.
A 2014 copy of the contract shows that employees had to agree to lose their tips if they were late to work. It also reads that the cost of training an employee is $300 and if an employee leaves the company or is terminated within a 180 day period, that $300 fee would be taken out of their last paycheck.
Eight former employees who talked to 12 News say they either experienced losing that money by not getting their last paycheck or witnessed other employees lose that money by not getting their last paycheck.
“It’s wage theft, pure and simple,” says Cliff Bendau, the attorney representing the former employees in the class action lawsuit.
Bendau says the loss of tips and a $300 deductible for baristas and $1,200 deductible for managers would bring the employees below minimum wage, which he says violates state and federal labor laws.
Earlier this month, a public relations representative for the owners of Bikini Beans said these are just disgruntled former employees and denies any wrongdoing.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
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