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Protocol owner ordered to pay thousands in tips owed to workers

State Labor Department files court papers
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 20:56:57-05

AMHERST, NY (WKBW) — An Amherst restaurant owner is facing more trouble in the new year, after being accused of sexual harassment months ago.

The owner of Protocol on Transit Road is now accused of withholding tens of thousands of dollars in tips from his staff.

Protocol Restaurant on Transit Road in Amherst.

Court documents,filed in State Supreme Court in Erie County by the New York State Department of Labor, say Protocol owner Paul Pelczynski stopped making payments for tip appropriations.

In September of 2015, he was ordered to make payments in compliance with state labor law owing more than $97,000. But after paying about $21,000, documents show the payments stopped. Complicating the situation, the state added interest and penalties, which means he now must pay more than $300,000.

According to court documents, the state labor commissioner says the owner of the Protocol owes more than 100 servers back wages and tips totaling thousands of dollars.

Court papers say one server is owed more than $14,000, another over $11,000 – all money they earned working at the Protocol between 2011 and 2014.

This is the second time the Protocol owner is facing trouble from employees. Last spring, he was hit with a federal lawsuit from female employees accusing him of sexual harassment.

7 Eyewitness News reached Pelczynski by phone Thursday. He was completely caught off guard, claiming he knew nothing about the court filing stating quote, "Oh my God."

Outside Protocol on Transit Road.

Pelczynski says he was fined several years ago for the banquet side of his business. He said he thought he was filing the tips correctly, but the state said otherwise. He began making payments but stopped in June.

He also tells 7 Eyewitness News he has paperwork stating he has until November of this year to complete the payments. He has every intention of paying off what he owes, Pelczynski said.