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Bar accused of making employee repay stolen money was named in 2016 wage suit

Updated September 30, 2021 - 12:30 pm

A business accused of deducting money from a bartender’s checks following an armed robbery was one of several Las Vegas Valley bars accused in a 2016 lawsuit of shorting employees a portion of their pay.

The Lodge at Hualapai, along with other bars under the Lodge brand name, were among dozens of defendants named in a class-action lawsuit filed in District Court in 2016 by Las Vegas lawyer Christian Gabroy.

Gabroy said this week that from 2014 to February 2017, the Lodge Taverns chain was paying bartenders $7.25 an hour when the law required that an employee without qualifying health insurance be paid a minimum wage of $8.25.

The suit also contended that bartenders were not properly compensated for overtime.

“They were not paying the minimum wage that is owed under our law,” Gabroy said. “When you don’t pay all current and formerly hourly employees minimum wage, that is wage theft. So, you get an advantage over any other operators who are running bars who are lawfully operating.”

The Lodge Taverns did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the case. A settlement of about $217,000 was reached to resolve all claims following private mediation, Gabroy said.

Gabroy said roughly 134 bartenders and servers each received an average of $403.10 in settlement money. The highest paid to an hourly employee as part of the settlement was $1,916.17.

“We are not talking about going after a ridiculous sum,” said Gabroy, who specializes in employee rights law. “We are just asking you pay these hard workers here minimum wage.”

The Lodge Taverns, along with two attorneys who represented the Lodge in the lawsuit, did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

The Lodge also has not responded to requests for comment on allegations made by former Lodge at Hualapai bartender Edward Parker, 42, who claimed on social media last week that he was forced to reimburse his employer for thousands of dollars stolen during a December robbery at his workplace at 3460 S. Hualapai Way.

Parker said that after a man stormed the bar and pointed a gun at him during the heist, management told him he had to reimburse the business for the financial losses suffered during the robbery or be fired.

In his social media post, Parker said he was leaving Las Vegas. He also shared a picture of a Lodge repayment form that gave him two options: Repay the $3,937.35 in one lump sum or through $300 installments.

“I’m ashamed to say that I was terrified of losing a great paying job during a chaotic time in America and chose to pay the money back and stay employed,” Parker wrote in the Facebook post. “I will regret that choice for years to come.”

The account by Parker led to an outpouring of anger on Facebook and Twitter. A Las Vegas couple, Jack McLaughlin, 42, and Daniela Tito, 38, were ultimately arrested in a string of bar robberies in the valley, including the one at the Lodge.

Parker said this week that he filed a complaint earlier this year with Nevada’s Office of Labor about the deductions. On July 22, the Office of Labor wrote to Parker saying it could not do anything about the deductions from his checks because he signed the payment agreement.

However, after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story detailed Parker’s account, the Office of Labor said it was taking a second look.

“Based on what was previously submitted, it was determined the employee signed a voluntary deduction agreement,” Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the Nevada Division of Business and Industry, wrote in a Tuesday email on behalf of the Office of Labor. “The office will review the file again based on current media reporting. I won’t have anything further to share until that review has been completed.”

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the year that Edward Parker filed his complaint with the state’s Office of Labor.

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