Mpls. restaurant workers awarded $230K in settlement

Tiny Diner
The Tiny Diner restaurant in Minneapolis is one of the restaurants operated by Bartmann Companies, which was under the wage-theft investigation settled Thursday.
Becca Dilley | Heavy Table 2014

A Minneapolis restaurant group will ultimately provide $230,000 in back pay, overtime and damages to its employees as part of a deal with Minnesota’s attorney general.

An agreement filed in Ramsey County District Court on Thursday ends a wage-theft investigation that Attorney General Keith Ellison had opened into Bartmann Companies. It’s the operator of eight neighborhood establishments, including Trapeze, Barbette, Tiny Diner and Red Stag Supperclub.

According to court documents, the wages at issue were tied to work done just ahead of COVID-19 restrictions on restaurant service. Other money covers overtime for employees who worked at multiple restaurants in the chain but weren’t paid extra when they exceeded 40 cumulative hours.

The attorney general’s office said Bartmann has paid some of the money since the investigation began in March of 2020. The remainder is in the form of damages and will be turned over soon for distribution to more than 200 workers.

Bartmann neither admits nor denies wrongdoing as part of the agreement. A $100,000 civil penalty will be stayed as a result of the deal that awaits court ratification. That penalty can be reinstated if the company runs afoul of rules over the next eight years.

Attorney General Keith Ellison said the awards are meaningful to those employees.

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“The real number is not how much total, it’s how much it means to the family budget of the victim,” Ellison said. “Imagine being the family that didn’t get that extra 100 or 200 or 300 bucks in your check that week that you worked for.” 

Employees owed money will receive it in installments over the next year.

An email seeking comment from Bartmann was not immediately returned.

Ellison said a special unit in his office is pursuing several complaints of wage theft across various industries.

“I can tell you that we get credible claims on a weekly basis,” he said.