LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A former employee at The Wurst Biergarten in downtown Lafayette has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor over the owner allegedly demanding a split of the tips.

News 10’s Rodricka Taylor spoke one-on-one with Christian Colson about his experience. 

“Everything was going fine for a while until he started making me and my co-workers split our tips equally with him, which I felt was unethical and upon further investigation, I found out to be completely illegal,” Colson said.  

He said being new to Lafayette and on the job for less than 3 months, learning about his boss’ request was upsetting.

“It was first explained to me that on really busy days he (the boss) would get some sort of tip-out for bar backing, which I was fine with at first, but it wasn’t until later that I realized that he was expecting an equal tip out for hardly doing any work.”

While mandatory tip pooling is legal, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, an employer cannot keep employees’ tips under any circumstances. Managers and supervisors also may not keep tips received by employees, including through tip pools.

Colson recalls a time when the crew made a whopping $700 in tips during ArtWalk.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “He requested that we split that equally with him, so three ways.” 

Upset and frustrated, Colson said, he addressed the issue and was told “you should consider it a privilege just to work here.”

That was his last day.

“We all work jobs where we feel compelled to stay because we needed to keep our bills paid. I just want to get the word out that other people don’t have this happen to them in the future.” 

He encourages others to speak up and says the U.S. Department of Labor is working on getting employees a refund on their money.

KLFY reached out to the business owner, Cue McCue, whose response to us was: “It’s ridiculous.”