NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A New Brunswick sports bar has agreed to pay $57,500 to six former employees, following a wage theft lawsuit that went on several years.
The lawsuit, filed by former employee James Gerard, accused World of Beer of violating state and federal minimum wage laws, according to a federal lawsuit against the establishment in the summer 2015.
World of Beer has roughly 70 locations around the country in college towns such as New Brunswick, catering mainly to sports crowds.
The New Brunswick business served and employed many Rutgers students, including several of the six former employees.
Although the New Brunswick establishment later changed its name to Hub City Brewhouse, it retained the same owners for a certain period. The lawsuit demanded any unpaid wages and overtime denied to the employees.
The suit alleged that the employees, all servers, were made to perform tasks for which they weren't paid and hadn’t even signed up for, such as taking out trash, washing windows, mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms.
It was alleged the owners also applied a “tip credit” to the employees, paycheck without their prior knowledge or consent. Employees weren’t paid for the hours they spent in mandatory training, the suit said.
Gerard worked at World of Beer from August 2012 to May 2015, according to the suit. During the year he spent as a server, he earned $2.13 an hour for the first 40 hours, and wasn’t paid overtime, the lawsuit reads.
Then, after taking the job as a product manager in 2014 for the business, Geard earned a $400 weekly salary despite working upwards of 60 hours, the lawsuit said.
Gerard’s suit was filed against defendants Willie Mingo, Nirav Patel and Desiree Mingo, as well as TapMasters, LLC and Tapmasters II, LLC, according to the suit.
In June 2016, the owners of the sports bar agreed to pay the unpaid wages, according to a release from New Labor, a local worker’s rights group.
Yet that amount hadn’t been paid a year later. It was during this time that the business became Hub City Brewhouse.
The owners against whom the suit was filed were no longer with the bar and left in the summer 2017, according to a current owner, who declined to further comment.
The former owners could not be reached for comment, while their legal counsel declined to comment. A lawyer for Patel could not be immediately reached for comment.
Around June 2017, a federal judge entered a judgment enforcing the settlement, according to New Labor.
Soon after, Gerard's counsel, East Brunswick attorney Mitchell Schley, petitioned the city to deny the Hub City Brewhouse the renewal of its food-service license if the payments weren’t made before November 30, prompting the payments to be made.
New Brunswick’s wage theft ordinance, enacted in December 2013 and considered the first of its kind in the state, prevents establishments from having their business licenses renewed if theyhave outstanding wage claims at the time of the application.
“We are pleased that we were finally able to obtain the money due the employees, who were mainly Rutgers students,” said Schley. “College students often fall victim to improper employment practices by unscrupulous employers.”