Pub Fined When Customers Carry Glasses

Bar owners fined $12,000 for using customers as 'undeclared labor'
Wikimedia/Tom Dobson

French authorities have fined a pub more than $12,000 because customers were 'acting like waiters.'

Carrying one’s empty glass back to the bar when ordering another round seems like a polite gesture, but a pub in Brittany has been slapped with a huge fine because French officials said it violated labor laws.

According to The Local, the social security agency in Brittany says the pub’s clients were acting like waiters by bringing back their own glasses. The agency is now demanding the owners of the Mamm-Kounifl pub in Brittany pay €9,000, or just more than $12,300, for using "undeclared labor."

"Around half-past midnight, a client brought back a tray," one of the owners explained. "She passed by the bar to go to the toilets. That’s when it all kicked off. My husband was pinned against the window by a man. A woman threw herself at me showing me her ID card. That’s when I realized it was an URSSAF check. They told me that I had been caught in the act of [using] 'undeclared labor.'"

The owner said customers have been bringing empty glasses back to the bar since the pub opened a decade ago.

"It’s our trademark. We want the customer to feel comfortable, a bit like he’s at home," she said.

A few weeks after that incident, the owners were hit with a €7,900 fine, or about $10,000. The owners were even put in jail for a short period, but some of their customers vouched for them and no criminal charges were brought.

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The social security agency is still pursuing a civil case against the couple, and has increased the original fine to €9,000.