Two restaurant workers at Portland International Jetport have sued their former employer, saying they were paid half the state minimum wage they should have received while doing work that typically doesn’t garner tips.

The two are suing HMS Host, a Maryland-based company that operates airport eateries including Linda Bean’s Lobster Cafe, Starbucks and the Shipyard Brew Pub. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Peter Mancuso, said he’s seeking class action status because there are at least 17 other employees who were also allegedly underpaid.

The jetport is not a party to the suit.

According to the complaint filed March 20, Jeffrey Stone and Ashley Green were paid the state tipped minimum wage.

But Stone and Green said they and others often performed duties at the unidentified restaurant where they didn’t earn tips, such as cooking, cleaning, setting up, closing down, training new employees and conducting inventory counts. Yet the workers still earned half the state minimum wage.

The pay was also less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the lawsuit said.


The complaint, filed in federal district court in Portland, said that HMS Host has regularly required its employees to do multiple jobs, including non-tipped ones, since 2020 because of staffing shortages.

In 2020, the state’s minimum wage was $12 an hour. It increased to $12.15 an hour in 2021, $12.75 an hour in 2022, and has been at $13.80 an hour since Jan. 1. The city of Portland’s minimum wage has regularly been higher than Maine’s and is currently $14 an hour.

The state’s tipped minimum has been $6.90 an hour since Jan. 1.

This isn’t the first time HMS Host has faced allegations of improper pay practices. In 2017, more than 100 workers filed suit in federal court in Maryland, alleging that the company failed to pay workers for mandatory overtime and, as in the Maine suit, paid workers in non-tipped jobs at the tipped rate. The suit was settled two years ago with HMS Host agreeing to pay $275,000 to the workers.

HMS Host did not respond Friday to questions about the Maine lawsuit.

The Maine action seeks back pay, damages and lawyers’ fees. A class-action suit can often lead to much larger settlements because of the greater number of people alleging they were harmed.

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