Three current and former waiters for “Felidia,” a popular New York restaurant, owned by Celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich, claim that the restaurant illegally retained tips and failed to pay minimum wage, spread of hours, and overtime pay.
The Complaint asserts that the restaurant was not entitled to reduce the minimum wage by applying the tip credit allowance that is available under the FLSA because the restaurant retained portions of servers’ tips, including an amount equal to approximately 5% of the restaurants’ nightly wine and/or beverage sales. Until recently, the restaurant did not distribute these funds to tipped employees. The lawsuit also claims that Felidia charged mandatory gratuities to private event hosts but that instead of distributing these gratuities in their entirety to the waitstaff, the restaurant retained a significant percentage of the gratuities and/or used to it pay the event coordinator. In addition, attorneys for the workers claim that the workdays of the waitstaff often lasted longer than ten hours. Until recently, the restaurants did not compensate them “spread of hours” premium equal to one hour’s pay at the minimum wage for each such workday.
The lawsuit seeks to recover unpaid wages and attorneys’ fees.