French officials have fined a pub in Brittany €9,000 for “undeclared labour” after a customer returned some empty glasses to the bar.
For customers at the Mamm-Kounifl concert-café in Locmiquélic, carrying drinks trays and used glasses back to the bar was a polite tradition.
But for social security agency URSAFF, it was also an infringement of labour laws because customers were acting like waiters, French local newspaper Le Télégramme reported.
“Around half-past midnight, a customer returned a drinks tray. She passed by the bar to go to the toilets. That was when it all kicked off. My husband was pinned against the glass by a man. A woman leapt on me, showing her ID card and that’s when I realised it was a URSSAF check. They told me I had been caught using undeclared labour,” owner Markya Le Floch told Le Télégramme.
“It is a scam. We haven’t committed any wrong doing,” she added.
The authorities initially fined the pub owners €7,900 and briefly placed them in police custody. Customers vouched for the owners and they escaped charges, but URSSAF are still pursuing a social case and are now seeking €9,000 due to non-payment of the original fine. A URSSAF spokesperson told France Bleu they refute the owners’ account of the incident.
“We were shocked by this and we’re certainly not going to pay the fine. This was all a mistake. What happened was completely surreal, but we’ve received a lot of support from our customers, and they also think that this situation is completely ridiculous,” Le Foch told The Independent.
The case will now be examined at a later date at a special court in Britany.