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Can Owners Force Bar/Resto Employees to Pay City Fines?

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Following up on Nevada Smith's controversial decision to force their bartenders to pay off fines for underage drinking, a reader asks Eater:

Can you please tell me if it's legal for owners to make employees pay for a fine that the owners' rest/bar incurred from various NYC departments. someone I know is being asked to pay $. She served drinks to under aged drinkers and the owners want her to chip in the fine. Is this legal or does she need a lawyer?
Eater decided to ask some bar and restaurant owners for their take on the question.

There was near consensus that the employee is given certain duties to perform, like carding anyone their suspect to be underage before serving them booze, but the bar or restaurant gets the fine, not the worker. The Eldridge's Matt Levine told Eater, "it is the responsibility of the bartender, door staff, and security to properly interact with guests and serve patrons, as owners we delegate these duties and properly hire responsible staff members to avoid such issues, but I believe it is the owners responsibility to cover and pay these fines, and all employee consequences should be handled internally.

Another restaurant and lounge owner says it's the "same as if they didn't do something that got them a health code violation. If they didn't change the fruit and that was part of their pre-shift work they could be fired but either way restaurant has to pay fine." Freemans' William Tigertt concurs, adding "the bar cannot legally ask the employee to pay for the fee, or dock their pay to cover the fee. Making somebody pay for breaking a bottle, is likewise illegal." Ken Friedman says, "I've never heard of an employee made to pay a fine. I have heard of an employee being fired for serving an underage customer."

While concurring with the business's responsibility to pay any fines, New York Nightlife attorney Robert Bookman raised an interesting point, saying that the employee could be responsible for any fines depending on the employment agreement, but adds that the "business are generally responsible for acts of employees. That is why we fire them afterwards." That's cold blooded!

So to our author, unless it's stipulated in her employment agreement, it seems that your friend has no legal responsibility to pay the any fines. But since she failed to perform her job, her employer does have cause to fire her.

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