Four Green Fields, Tampa’s iconic Irish restaurant, sued over unpaid wages

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Seven employees said they were only paid in tips, not required wages.

What did I have?

It’s the question that starts the Clancy Brother’s song from which Four Green Fields gets its name. But according to a lawsuit filed last month in Hillsborough County Court, the question a group of former employees is asking is what didn’t I have?

Their answer — wages.

Seven former employees are suing the owner of the popular Tampa pub after they discovered Four Green Fields’ management was in violation of labor laws. The suit points to a 2019 U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found Four Green Fields wasn’t paying bartenders a direct wage, only tips. Under state and federal law, businesses can pay tipped employees a sub-minimum wage so long as tips bring the hourly wage up to at least the regular minimum wage.

But the investigation found bartenders only received tips. No direct wage was provided. The suit alleges the seven employees have attempted to contact Four Green Fields and co-founder Colin Breen to collect backpay, but they haven’t gotten a response.

“Plaintiffs have demanded proper compensation via demand letter for the unpaid minimum wage compensation, but Defendants have refused and/or failed to compensate them for same,” the suit says. “As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ deliberate nonpayment of wages, Plaintiffs have been damaged in the loss of minimum wages for the subject weeks that they worked for the Defendants.”

The Department of Labor confirmed the 2019 investigation to Florida Politics.

“The Wage and Hour Division requested the employer pay the back wages found due,” spokesperson Erika Ruthman said. “When the employer refused to pay the back wages, the employer was informed that employees would be notified of their right to file a private lawsuit against the employer.”

The seven employees, some of whom spent nearly a decade working at the bar, said the payment practice caused their wages to drop below the minimum wage for some weeks. The group is looking to recoup lost wages from November 2016 until Four Green Fields began paying a direct wage.

According to court filings, the group is suing for more than $30,000 to collect lost wages, plus damages equal to the wages awarded, court fees and any other award a jury deems appropriate.

Ruthman said the company agreed to comply with wage laws moving forward, but could not confirm if it has actually happened without conducting another investigation.

Breen could not be reached for comment.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


One comment

  • zhombre

    December 13, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Isn’t that an authentically Irish custom?

Comments are closed.


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