Hakkasan New York illegally retained tips and failed to pay any wages to the waitstaff that were sent home after reporting to work, according to a federal court lawsuit filed in New York. The lawsuit charged the restaurant with violations of the minimum wage requirements under the Fair Labor Standard Act and New York Labor Law. Furthermore, the lawsuit charged the restaurant with failure to pay the waitstaff according to the “Call-In Pay” and Service Charge requirements under the New York Labor Law.
Attorneys for Hakkasan waiters, waitresses, bussers, and bartenders claim that Hakkasan engaged in unlawful pay practices that violated the FLSA and New York Labor Law. The wage theft lawsuit claims that Hakkasan required customarily tipped employees to pool their tips with non-tipped employees such as expeditors. Unlike tipped employees, expeditors do not perform any direct customer service, were not engaged in customarily tipped work, and did not have any meaningful interaction with customers. Specifically, an expeditor’s job duties were performed exclusively in the kitchen, completely out of the customers’ view. Expeditors worked as liaisons between the kitchen staff and front of house staff, and would ensure that food orders were organized and at the right temperatures.
The complaint alleges that Hakkasan employees would regularly report to work but be told to return home, and would not be paid their “call-in pay” as required by New York State Hospitality Wage Order § 146-1.5. The Wage Order provides that an employer must pay an employee who “reports for duty on any day, whether or not assigned to actual work, at the applicable wage rate for: (1) at least three hours for one shift, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less; (2) at least six hours for two shifts totaling six hours or less, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less; and (3) at least eight hours for three shifts totaling eight hours or less, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less.”
The complaint also alleges that Hakkasan charged and collected “service charges,” from private events, and did not remit the gratuities to the waitstaff. The wage theft lawsuit claims that Hakkasan led or knowingly allowed its customers to believe that the Service Charge was a gratuity for the waitstaff by requiring a mandatory “service charge,” “administrative charge,” or a charge with a similar name compromising a percentage of the total bill. New York Labor Law § 196-d prohibits an employer from retaining “any part of a gratuity or of any charge purported to be gratuity.”