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FLSA Lawyer News Update: New York Restaurant Settles Overtime Lawsuit for $5M

above-the-bar-logo-no12Celebrity chef Mario Batali and his chief business partner Joe Bastianich have reached a $5.25 million settlement with workers who had alleged violations of New York Labor Law and the FLSA. The lawsuit, filed in July 2010, alleged that Batali and his partner had a standard policy of taking 4-5% of the tip pool that was given to servers for alcohol and wine sales.

The lawsuit was initially brought by a waitress who worked at Batali’s restaurant, Babbo, in the Village. The workers’ allegations included charges of unpaid overtime wages, unpaid minimum wages, unpaid spread of hours pay, and unpaid misappropriated tips. Our attorneys have represented and helped many restaurant workers who have not been paid their rightful compensation. If you are a waiter, waitress, bartender or any type of tipped worker and have been denied any of your rightful wages or tips or are a restaurant owner unfairly accused, call our attorneys to help you.

The amended complaint charged that Batali and Bastianich “unlawfully confiscated a portion of their workers’ hard-earned tips in order to supplement their own profit. At the end of every shift, instead of distributing customers’ credit card tips to the workers who earned them as the law requires, Mr. Batali, Mr. Bastianich, and their restaurant took from the tip pool an amount equal to approximately 4-5% of the restaurants’ wine sales (and sometimes other beverage sales) for the night and put it in their own pockets.”

The class action included 117 workers. However, the settlement agreement could cover about 1,100 current and former workers at 8 Italian style New York restaurants. Some of the restaurants named in the lawsuit include Babbo, Del Posto, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Esca, Lupa and Otto.

Each plaintiff will receive a part of the settlement monies dependent on how many hours he or she worked at the restaurants. It will be available to the restaurants’ captains, servers, waiters, bussers, runners, back waiters, bartenders, and/or barbacks who worked there from July 22, 2004 to February 14, 2012 and who do not opt out of the settlement.

If you are a tipped employee such as a waiter, waitress, waiter, bartender, or valet, your combined cash and tip minimum wage rate must total $7.25 per hour. If you do not earn at least $7.25 including tips in any given hour of work, your employer must make up this difference. New York law also provides that if you are a restaurant worker whose workday is longer than ten hours, you must receive an extra hour of pay at the basic minimum hourly rate of $7.25 in addition to the pay for the actual hours you worked. If you are a tipped employee working at a restaurant, your employer cannot make you share your tips with non-service employees who do not in the ordinary course of business regularly receive tips. These are just a few things to keep in mind if you are working in the food service industry. If you think your employer is not accurately paying you your required wages, forcing you to share your tips in violation of New York Labor law or the FLSA, or taking a part of your gratuities, call our Wage & Hour Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to discuss how we can help you protect your rights to your compensation.

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