Co-creator of Proof cocktail syrup settles lawsuit against Pinewood over wages

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 8, 2017

The Pinewood in Decatur. Source: Google Street View

A former Pinewood Tippling Room bartender who is credited with helping create the restaurant’s line of cocktail syrups recently settled a federal lawsuit against his former employer.

Bartender Kirk Gibson filed the lawsuit in January. The lawsuit says that the Pinewood’s owners were legally obligated to pay Gibson minimum wage and overtime wages for his work but failed to do so.

Gibson made $2.13 an hour as a bartender, plus tips and paid a portion of his tips to his manager, who is named as a defendant. Gibson’s lawsuit alleges his employers were not legally entitled to pay him using the “tip credit,” which allows employers to count tips toward minimum wage for their employees.

While he was employed there, Gibson and other Pinewood employees created a line of cocktail syrups known as Proof. The lawsuit lists Gibson as the creator, but news articles about the product describe it is a collaborative effort between Gibson and his coworkers. Gibson eventually worked exclusively as the product’s marketer and worked 50 to 60 hours each week selling the product, the lawsuit says.

Gibson worked at Pinewood from August 2012 to April 2015 and marketed Proof from October 2014 to September 2016. He settled his lawsuit with Pinewood in July records show.

Pinewood denied the claims but agreed to pay $38,000 to Gibson and his attorneys. As part of the settlement, Gibson agreed not to use or disclose confidential information about Proof syrups. He will be receiving about 96 percent of his estimated unpaid wages, according to a copy of the settlement reviewed by Decaturish.

“This case was relatively complex because Plaintiff [Gibson] contends he performed two different sets of duties with differing sets of records,” the settlement says.

Under the law, the terms of the settlement had to be made public according to Brooks Cloud, one of the Pinewood’s owners.

“He was not a bartender when working with Proof. He was a partner, so there was some confusion around that is the best way I can put it,” Cloud said.

He said Proof is available in stores and selling well.

An attorney for Gibson declined to comment.

Here is a copy of the settlement agreement:


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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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