Minneapolis restaurants owner under investigation after reports of withheld wages

The Tiny Diner in Minneapolis is operated by Kim Bartmann's Bartmann Hospitality. (FOX 9)

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is calling on the owner of six Minneapolis restaurants to provide records to his office after reports that she withheld wages from recently laid-off staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Bartmann Hospitality, Kim Bartmann runs Barbette, Tiny Diner, Red Stag Supperclub, Pat's Tap, Book Club and Gigi's Cafe.

Friday, Ellison's office sent a letter to Bartmann calling on her to provide information on the amount of unpaid wages, the amount of accrued but unused paid time off, and the amount of accrued but unused sick leave for each employee. The office asked her to respond by April 3.

“Minnesota workers and small-business owners are both having a tough time affording their lives right now, especially in the hospitality industry that is such an important part of Minnesota’s economy and culture. But even in this tough time, it’s still not legal to withhold wages that employees have earned,” Attorney General Ellison said in a press release. “Now more than ever, my office is here to help everyone, including workers and business owners, afford their lives, get through this crisis, and live with dignity and respect.”

Workers are still entitled to wages they have already earned, even if they were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees can write to their employer to demand their wages.

Those who believe they have been the victim of improperly-withheld wages or wage theft related to the COVID-19 crisis, please contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office immediately. You can file a complaint online or by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota). 

You can also file a wage claim with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry by emailing dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us or calling (651) 284-5075 or (800) 342-5354.