Susur Lee Restaurants Made Staff Use Their Tip Money to Pay For Mistakes

Punching in the wrong order and spilling a drink are examples of things that cost employees money

Workers at the Susur Lee-owned restaurants Fring’s, Lee, and the now-closed Bent have revealed some awful practices. As CBC reports, spilling a drink, showing up with the wrong order, or punching in the wrong order were things that employees routinely got tip money taken away to cover costs.

There was an IOU system that appeared on their tip envelopes, that showed the costs of their mistakes and the money taken away, some totaling up to $100.

The IOU’s were ridiculous, an order of four Jameson shots and three cocktails cost one former employee $101.70. The employee thinks it’s because the customers walked away from their bill, and he was then forced to cover the costs.


An image submitted to CBC by Dylan Turner.

An ex-employee told CBC that this system in place fostered a culture of “intimidation and fear.”

The amounts of money removed varied, with managers using their discretion on how much to deduct from an employee’s tip money. Sometimes it would be the full cost of a meal or a drink, other times only the costs associated with creating it.

Kelsea Knowles, executive assistant and public relations co-ordinator for the Susur Lee Restaurant Group told CBC that “previously all such payments from the IOUs were used to fund hospitality for staff events.”

According to current employees, the IOU policy came to an end last weekend after some employees spoke out on social media. The policy that was in place at these Susur Lee restaurants was illegal. The Ministry of Labour code states “Employers can’t withhold, make deductions from, or make their employees return their tips and other gratuities.” It goes on to explain, “An employer is also prohibited from making deductions, etc., from his or her employees’ tips and other gratuities for such things as spillage, breakage, losses or damage.”

The ministry is not currently investigating any IOU-related complaints.

Feature photo by fetechinoise.