Servers at Le Bernardin, Zagat’s top-rated New York seafood restaurant for 2011, have sued the restaurant for tip, overtime, and spread of hours violations.
The Complaint, filed in United States District Court in Manhattan by attorneys for a former captain and server at the restaurant, alleges that the waitstaff was required to pool their tips with managers who exercised significant managerial control over the waitstaff at Le Bernardin. The servers were also required to share tips with other non-service/managerial individuals, including Le Bernardin’s wine director and another individual who worked in the kitchen and prepared coffee.
The Complaint also alleges that Le Bernardin charged mandatory gratuities at private events but instead of distributing these gratuities in their entirety to the waitstaff, the restaurant retained a significant percentage of the gratuities and/or used it to pay the event coordinator. In addition, attorneys for the waiters, claim that the waitstaff’s workdays often lasted longer than ten hours but that the restaurant did not pay New York’s “spread of hours” premium to its employees. The “spread of hours” premium under New York law is equal to one hour’s pay at the minimum wage for each such workday.