Employee sues Milan for taking his tips


Sandeep Dias filed suit against his former employer, Milan Restaurant, on January 9, seeking an award of monetary damages and declaratory relief on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated. In his complaint, filed by the Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center, Dias charges that the Indian restaurant, specifically owner Charanjeet Ghotra, failed to pay proper minimum wage by retaining tips left by patrons for the waitstaff, as well as failing to pay proper overtime wages, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the act, such a suit resembles a class action, except that the aggrieved can opt in instead of opting out.

A former employee charges that Milan’s owner, Charanjeet Ghotra, retained tips from his workers and didn’t pay overtime.

“Immigrant workers in Virginia are at risk from exploitation by unscrupulous employers who take advantage of their unfamiliarity with their legal rights and the justice system,” said Erin Trodden, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. “As a community, we need to ensure that immigrant workers have the support they need to defend their workplace rights.”

Dias, a resident of Virginia but a native of Bombay, India, was an employee of Milan (at 1817 Emmet St.) for two years. During that time, his suit alleges that the restaurant required him and others to turn over the tips they received from restaurant patrons. In addition, the complaint states that Dias regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but was not paid the overtime rate of one and a half times the regular wage.

“When Charlottesville diners go out to eat, we want to enjoy our food knowing that the restaurant is paying its workers properly,” says Tim Freilich, legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program. “Charlottesville diners have the reasonable expectation that when we leave a tip for our server, the server is going to get it. Many workers in the service industry work long, thankless hours, and we need to make sure they are at least being properly compensated for their efforts.”

Milan’s owner could not be reached for comment.

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