The tip skimming lawsuit against Mario Batali’s group of New York Italian restaurants has moved to the class certification stage.
On May 9, 2011, United States District Court Judge Richard Holwell granted conditional certification of a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to waiters and bartenders who were employed by the eight Batali restaurants in the New York area: Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Otto, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Esca, Lupa, Del Posto, and Tarry Lodge.
The employees allege that the restaurants share a policy of deducting a portion of wine sales (typically 4% or 4.5%) from the tip pool and giving it to the house. In support of the lawsuit, the workers provided pre-printed tip worksheets which contained a space for the deduction, suggesting that the policy was applied uniformly across the Batali restaurants. In accordance with Judge Holwell’s decision, a Notice of Lawsuit should be going out to tipped employees at all eight of Batali’s restaurants in the weeks ahead, giving the workers an opportunity to join the FLSA case.