Lawsuit claims Opriskos failed to pay wages for bar employees
BY Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org February 13, 2013 11:32PM
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:07PM
Portage City Councilman Mark Oprisko and his wife, Portage Township School Board President Cheryl Oprisko, never paid wages to three servers at the couple’s two bars, according to a federal lawsuit.
Plaintiffs Jessica Lapato, Jennifer Bish and Kimberly Ahrens, in their lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, say they worked at Mark O’s Bar in Munster each for several months but were given only excuses as to why they weren’t paid. Bish also worked at the Mark O’s Bar in Portage.
The Opriskos could not be reached for comment.
The Fair Labor Standards Act allows restaurants to use tips as a portion of their servers’ minimum wage but requires restaurants to pay their servers at least $2.13 an hour.
The plaintiffs, who are represented by Marissa McDermott and Kevin Smith, say the Opriskos did not pay any wage. They instead gave excuses, such as claiming that the employees owed them money for their $200 uniforms and that tickets were missing, according to the lawsuit.
The women claim they also had to share their tips with the bars’ cooks and were not paid for overtime hours they worked.
“It’s even further burdening these employees,” McDermott said.
The lawsuit points out that this allowed the Opriskos to enjoy more profit because they weren’t paying employees.
McDermott says that her clients never saw other employees receive pay checks either, although they don’t know whether the cooks received pay checks. She is requesting a federal judge to grant the lawsuit collective action status, which is similar to a class action lawsuit. The only difference is that people have to opt in to a collective action suit, versus opting out of a class action suit.
The plaintiffs also question the $200 for their uniforms they were required to buy, saying they had to pay that money to the Opriskos, who then ordered the uniforms, which the plaintiffs describe as a “flimsy and revealing dancer outfit.” The Opriskos never gave the employees receipts for the uniforms, McDermott said.
McDermott added that she finds it hart to believe Mark Oprisko, who has run a business for about 10 years, and Cheryl Oprisko, who graduated from the Valparaiso University School of Law, did not know about the federal laws overseeing wages.
The plaintiffs are asking for wages owed, legal costs and an injunction to require that the Opriskos pay their employees.