Iron Chef Morimoto Sued for Tip Skimming

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Iron Chef Morimoto Sued for Tip Skimming

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Masaharu Morimoto and his upscale New York restaurant Morimoto were sued by a barback in a class action lawsuit for cheating the restaurant’s workers out of tips.

The case against Morimoto contains three main allegations.  First, the lawsuit claims that non-service employees such as silver polishers participated in the tip pool.  Second, the lawsuit claims that Morimoto kept gratuities for banquets and private events which should have been distributed to the service staff.  Third, the lawsuit claims Morimoto failed to pay its workers “spread of hours” pay.

Morimoto is the third Iron Chef to have his flagship New York restaurant sued for wage and hour violations.  Earlier this year Bobby Flay settled a case with workers from his restaurants Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, and Bolo who alleged that Flay improperly included managers and other non-service employees in the tip pool, failed to pay overtime, and had employees working “off the clock.”  Mario Batali’s restaurants Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Moni, Otto Enoteca, and Tarry Lodge were also sued this year for alleged wage and hour violations.  The principal claim against Batali was that he skimmed from the tip pool “an amount equal to 4.5% of the restaurant’s nightly wine and beverage sales.”

These cases highlight the depth of wage and hour violations that are occurring in the New York restaurant industry.  Iron Chefs Batali, Flay, and Morimoto can whip up five dishes from a “secret ingredient” in sixty minutes.  But like many restaurants in New York, these Iron Chefs have found it difficult to slice and dice through the complicated wage and hour laws and regulations.

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