Ogden restaurant workers file unpaid wage claims; owner responds, promises payment | News, Sports, Jobs


Brian Wolfer, Special to Standard Examiner

The Bickering Sisters Restaurant has opened a second location at Ogden-Hinkley Airport. The restaurant is pictured on Friday August 28, 2020.

OGDEN — Several former employees of an Ogden restaurant have filed claims with the Utah Labor Board, alleging they were owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

“Even before COVID, she’s basically been behind on the payroll since then,” ex-employee Irish Thornhill said of Karen Larrabee, owner of Bickering Sisters. “She kept talking about loans – ‘hold on’ – I stayed because I believed her.”

Larrabee said Tuesday she had already contacted the Utah Labor Board to ask the agency to help arbitrate the cases so employees could be paid, but was told the process could not. begin until an employee has filed a grievance. “I tried to find something that I pay everyone,” she said.

Thornhill, who had worked for the restaurant since 2016, resigned two weeks ago after saying Larrabee had failed to keep his promise to pay his due salary. She said that that day, Larrabee said she only had $200 and Thornhill would have to split that with another employee.

“I’m disposable for her,” Thornhill said. “Six years, she never even cared.”

Thornhill said a year ago she started tracking wages owed to her on a weekly basis. When she quit, she still owed more than $2,100, she said.

“We begged her to pay us,” Thornhill said. “Now I will do what I have to do.”

She and another former employee, Josh Hurst, said they filed claims for unpaid wages with the Labor Board. Hurst said he owed $4,400. They both approached the standard reviewer with their complaints as well.

Larrabee acknowledges that she owes money to Hurst and Thornhill, “but I don’t know those are the amounts I would accept.”

Commission spokesman Eric Olsen said on Tuesday the agency had received pay complaints about Bickering Sisters and had opened an investigation. He declined to comment further as an investigation is ongoing.

Under Utah law, the state can fine an employer 5% of unpaid wages, with the penalty assessed daily until the employee is paid, up to 20 days. An employer can also be fined up to $500 per year for repeated violations of the unpaid wages law.

Hurst said he was a server at Bickering Sisters but quit after not being paid for months. “I don’t know why she just didn’t at least make a payment plan, $20 here, $40 there,” Hurst said.

Former employees provided group texts that they said were conversations between Larrabee and restaurant workers about pay issues. Larrabee said in a thread that business got off to a “very slow” start at its new location at Ogden-Hinckley Airport. She said restaurant sales have to reach a certain level before she can let everyone know. “I really want everyone to get paid ASAP,” she wrote to the group.

“We’re tired of hearing the same old thing,” Thornhill said Tuesday. “I have overdue bills. My bank account is negative and two children to support.

Larrabee said she closed the other Bickering Sisters location on Grant Avenue in May. She said most of the unpaid wages came from Grant’s location.

She said she applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration related to COVID-19 economic relief two years ago. “It was a good loan, $435,000,” she said. “I jumped through all the hoops and thought I was going to get it. At the last minute they said no.

She said she kept staff in anticipation of the loan. “That’s where I fell behind,” she says. “I probably should have fired people a long time ago.”

Larrabee said she was disappointed that the former employees spoke to the media. “It only hurts them to do that,” she said. “It hurts the business and makes it more difficult for them to be reimbursed.”

With business picking up at the restaurant, she said, “We’re finally getting into a good place where I can really pay people back.”

She said she hadn’t paid herself for two years and had been supported by her mother during that time. “It’s not like I’m running around town spending money everywhere,” she said.



Newsletter

Join thousands of people who already receive our daily newsletter.


About Wilhelmina Go

Check Also

Seattle Local Business News and Data DJC.com – News

November 10, 2022 Sinkus Titus Mutual of Enumclaw, a Washington-based insurance company, has expanded its …