Employees at The Bohemian quit over delayed paychecks

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Staff members walked out at the Bohemian restaurant in Cedar Rapids on Saturday frustrated because they weren’t paid. Some of those employees have since been paid. But according to them, the damage was done when the owner was unable to pay them on time.

Now they refuse to go back, and the owner says he is trying to find ways to pay the remaining employees.

Sierra Bonifazi-Cosby was coming up on her one year anniversary working at the Bohemian when she and the rest of her coworkers made the decision to leave.

She was supposed to be paid on Friday. But the owner told the manager not to hand out checks until the following week because they would bounce.

“I just honestly felt it was an unsafe place to work physically, mentally, and financially,” she told TV-9. “There are people with children, there are people in school, there are people below the age of 18.”

Owner Mike Richards says he tried everything he could to get the money on time. Even going as far as using cash from the register to pay some of the employees.

But revenue has not kept up for the business.

“After two years of COVID, we no longer had a surplus savings account if anything were to go wrong,” said Richards.

Austin Gloede was one of many who attended a meeting on Saturday night for just employees to talk about their options. He says at first he gave his boss the benefit of the doubt.

“He would be like, ‘Yeah we could just pay by the day.’ But the first time I actually come in to do that, he says ‘Oh well these bills are coming out automatically so the money isn’t in the bank,’” said Gloede.

He says he asked for his check the following Tuesday, but Richards still was not able to pay.

“We’re not getting our money. He’s trying to get people to come in and work hours in order to get other people paid. When, in turn, those hours that their working, isn’t going to turn out to give them any money,” said Gloede.

Those employees have either already found other jobs, or are actively looking. Something they say has not been hard given that so many similar locations are hiring.

While Richards has had other people come to him willing to work, he is still trying to figure out the best option to pay the remaining checks.

“Customers and patrons here who think this place is exceptional and want it to stay open have come to me and said perhaps we could do a short term loan,” said Richards.

This isn’t the first incident of it’s kind at The Bohemian.

Two former employees filed a lawsuit almost a year ago against the owner claiming thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. They settled out of court.

Court records show the Bohemian and its owner also facing lawsuits and small claims for not paying contractors and defaulting on a loan. All within the last two years.