(WSVN) - For South Floridians living paycheck to paycheck, every dollar counts. But one group of restaurant workers say their boss is serving up a bunch of bad checks. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

Creating the perfect cocktail is a bartender’s dream.

Sierra Ryerson/former employee: “And I was very excited because it was my first like real craft cocktail bartender job.”

Sierra Ryerson started at Ya Mas in Fort Lauderdale back in January. But six months into the job, things took a turn.

Sierra Ryerson: “The first check that bounced was at the beginning of June when I came back from vacation.”

And nearly all of her paychecks after that also bounced.

Sierra Ryerson: I go to Wells Fargo and they tell me that they cannot cash it. Then they put a little sticker on the back and I need to get a new check.”

Sierra was eventually paid by her boss for most of her work hours but says she is still owed for two checks from July, one for her wages, the other for tips.

Sierra Ryerson: “I’m literally begging you to pay me the money that I worked for, and you can’t even put that together.”

Ya Mas is run by Robert “Memphis” Garrett and Garrett Hospitality Group.

Memphis Garrett is featured on the company website as a former “Big Brother” cast member. The site also says he has opened “close to 40 restaurants and nightclubs.”

His Instagram page shows he’s preparing to open a new one in Fort Lauderdale.

We called Garrett. He didn’t answer, but he did send an email.

He wrote: “All individuals, whether contractors or employees, who were terminated from their positions, have received their complete payment. All current employees are paid to date, plain and simple.”

We asked him for proof. He did not provide any.

Brandon Brantley/former employee: “They blocked all my numbers, they don’t return phone calls or email or anything. So no communication.”

Brandon Brantley worked at the company’s Chicago restaurant Lady May Eatery and Cocktail Parlor.

He quit after a $4,000 paycheck bounced.

Brandon Brantley: “I haven’t been paid the $4,000 dollars. When I put in my two-week notice, the HR lady called me several times at midnight the next night, telling me they accepted immediately, and I was banned from the property.”

Brandon filed a report with the Illinois Department of Labor. Sierra says she was able to get some of her money after taking matters into her own hands.

Sierra Ryerson: “I said, ‘I’m going on the news today at 2:30 p.m.,’ and I got my money this morning.”

Sierra quit at Ya Mas, and is still holding onto a check for $588 that she says has not cleared.

Karen Hensel, 7News.


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