In Lanzetta v. Florio’s Enterprises, Judge Denny Chin awarded $127,938.21 in back wages and damages to Carmella Lanzetta, a former waitress at Florio’s Restaurant in Little Italy. During her four years at Florio’s, and in violation of both state and federal wage and hour laws, Florio’s compensated Lanzetta only with tips, never paying her an hourly wage and failing to pay her for overtime. For the first two years of her employment at the restaurant, Florio’s forced Lanzetta to pay $160.00 in weekly withholding taxes, which Lanzetta paid from her tip income. Even so, Florio’s would only remit $111.85 of this amount to the government, keeping the excess. In addition, while Lanzetta regularly worked over ten-hour shifts, she was never paid for an additional hour of “spread-of-hours” pay.
In his Opinion, Judge Chin held that not only was Florio’s Restaurant liable for damages, but that its managers were as well. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), “employers” are liable for their violations of labor laws. In Lanzetta, the court found that both of Florio’s managers held enough power and control to be considered “employers” under the law and therefore subjected them to personal liability for their wage and hour violations.
Little Italy restaurants are part of the wave of lawsuits against restaurants in Manhattan which make the complaint that restaurant worker rights are being violated under the FLSA and New York Labor Law. SPQR is another popular Little Italy restaurant that was recently sued by waiters, bus boys, and bartenders. The SPQR lawsuit alleges wage theft of tips by managers and unpaid overtime under the FLSA and the New York Labor Law.