Tag Archives: Lawsuits

Servers at Le Cirque Sue For Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations

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A waiter at Le Cirque restaurant, recognized as one of the best restaurants in New York City, has filed a class action complaint in Manhattan federal court on behalf of all front of the house employees, other than captains, employed at the restaurant since September 17, 2008.

The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant violated the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law when it paid service employees a reduced tipped minimum wage rate without adhering to the laws’ requirements by which it could take the “tip credit.”  Attorneys for the workers claim that the restaurant should not have paid the workers the federal tipped minimum wage because the restaurant allowed captains, who were managerial employees, to share in the tips, and also failed to adequate notice of the tip credit to the service employees.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” and pay waiters, bussers, and bartenders below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (Note: minimum wage in New York is now $8.00 per hour).  For example, the “tip credit” for waitstaff in New York is currently $3.00 per hour, meaning that waiters, busboys, and bartenders can be paid an hourly minimum wage of $5.00 per hour.  The Fair Labor Standards Act only allows employers to take this tip credit when the employees have been informed of the tip credit provisions of that law, and when the worker is allowed to retain all of the tips that he receives or is only required to share his tips with other workers who also customarily and regularly receive tips, such as servers, busboys, runners and bartenders.

The complaint against the restaurant alleges that the captains had authority to set schedules, discipline employees, grant or deny vacation requests, interview prospective employees, run pre-shift meetings, control station assignments, and recommend employees for hire, fire, and promotions.

The case against Le Cirque seeks back wages, penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  This is the second lawsuit brought against Le Cirque for wage violations. Waiters who staffed private parties sued in 2009 over the restaurant’s retention of a mandatory service charge of as much as 20% paid on private parties.

Cracker Barrel Associate Managers Sue for Overtime Pay

cracker barrel

Associate Managers of Cracker Barrel restaurants have been misclassified as “exempt” employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), according to an overtime lawsuit filed on August 7 in Florida federal court.

The lawsuit claims that Associate Managers at Cracker Barrel locations across the United States are misclassified as “exempt” even though their primary work duties included, among other things, preparing food, cooking, cashiering, making sales, and completing reports.  Attorneys for the workers claim that despite their primary job duties being non-exempt in nature, Cracker Barrel did not pay one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours the Associate Managers worked over forty per week.

The Associate Managers are seeking damages for unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, and other damages.

Sushi Yasuda to Pay $2.4 Million to Settle Wage Claims

sushi yasuda

Sushi Yasuda, widely recognized as one of the best Japanese restaurants in New York, has settled a lawsuit for $2.4 million dollars according to a proposed settlement agreement filed in New York federal court.

The restaurant’s front of the house staff alleged that Sushi Yasuda violated the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law by failing to pay employees for all the hours worked, unlawfully taking a “tip credit” and paying the employees less than the minimum wage, and failing to pay employees spread-of-hours pay when they worked more than ten hours in a day.

Sushi chefs, bussers and the waitstaff at the restaurant will receive a proportional share of the Settlement Fund based on the number of shifts they worked from December 3, 2006 to May 12, 2013.  According to the attorneys for the workers, over 100 employees will be covered by the settlement.

The restaurant recently received wide press coverage for its elimination of tips when owners decided to give customers an authentic Japanese dining experience by following the Japanese custom of not tipping.  The restaurant rolled out its policy on its bills and menus, which stated, “Following custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary.  Therefore gratuities are not accepted.  Thank you.”

Waiterpay Founder Featured on Brooklyn TV

Louis Pechman, the founder of Waiterpay, was a featured guest on BK Live’s June 2, 2014 segment on Tipped Wages.  The segment focused on pay issues in New York City restaurants, including concerns about the increase in lawsuits for illegal pay practices.  Among the topics discussed were the differences between minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, the complicated set of laws involving the tip credit, spread of hours, and other worker rights issues.

Food Network Celebrity Willie Degel Agrees to Pay $900,000 to Settle Wage and Hour Lawsuit

uncle jacks steakhouse logo

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse and its owner, Food Network Celebrity Willie Degel, will pay $900,000 to settle a wage theft lawsuit filed against its restaurants located in Bayside, Queens and Midtown, New York City.  Ironically, Degel was featured on Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout, a show which followed Degel as he visited restaurants across the country with hidden cameras to capture their food service problems and attempted to fix them.

On May 22, 2014, Judge Loretta Preska, Chief United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York, approved a $900,000 settlement between the restaurants and its workers, who alleged that their worker rights were violated by the restaurant.  Approximately 239 restaurant workers who worked between September 2002 and September 2008 at the New York City and Queens restaurants are expected to benefit from the settlement.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2008 by captains, waiters, runners, bussers, and bartenders, alleged that the restaurants failed to pay them at the legally required minimum wage, routinely shaved their hours when they worked over 40 hours and refused to pay them overtime wages for hours worked over 40, misappropriated gratuities belonging to the waitstaff, failed to pay spread of hours pay when the employees’ workdays exceeded ten hours, and refused to pay for employee uniforms or laundering of such uniforms.

Peter Luger’s Steakhouse Settles Wage Lawsuit for $250,000

peter luger steak house logo

Workers at Peter Luger’s, recognized by Zagat’s as the best steakhouse in New York, has agreed to a $250,000 settlement to resolve claims made against the Long Island location of the steakhouse for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York labor law violations, according to papers filed with the court.

Restaurant employees initially filed a complaint against the steakhouse in March 2013, alleging that the restaurant failed to pay them for all hours worked, specifically that the restaurant violated its workers’ rights by failing to pay proper overtime and minimum wages and spread-of-hours pay, and by maintaining an illegal tip pool.  The Complaint alleged that the management deducted $20.00 from the tip pool every day, which would then be given to the kitchen staff at the end of the year.

The workers have asked the Judge Wexler to approve the settlement and certify the proposed class, which would cover 62 employees who worked at the restaurant’s Great Neck location as servers, waitstaff, waiters, and bartenders.

TGI Friday’s Hit With Lawsuit For Tip Theft, Minimum Wage, and Other Labor Law Violations

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TGI Friday’s was hit with a lawsuit by its servers for violations of state and federal wage payment laws.  According to the lawyers for the workers, which include current and former servers, bussers, runners, bartenders, barbacks, hosts, and other tipped workers, the restaurant chain faces a national class action lawsuit as a result of the alleged violations of workers’ rights.

The Complaint, which was filed in federal court by four former TGI Friday’s workers from the New York metro area, alleges that the restaurant required tipped workers to arrive at work before their scheduled start time and to stay at work after the restaurant closed without receiving the minimum wages and overtime to which they were entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).

In addition, the workers allege that the restaurant shaved hours from employee time records and allowed employees to work off-the-clock to perform side work such as cleaning the restaurant, preparing food in bulk for customers, cutting produce, refilling condiments, and stocking and replenishing the bar and service areas.

The lawsuit seeks to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, spread-of-hours pay, misappropriated tips, uniform-related expenses, unlawful deductions, and other wages for current and former workers at TGI Friday’s restaurants throughout the nation owned and/or operated by Carrollton, Texas-based Carlson Restaurants Inc., Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., and TGI Friday’s Inc. nationwide.

Cooks and Dishwashers at Planet Wings Sue For Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

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Cooks and dishwashers have sued Planet Wings restaurants located in New York for minimum wage, overtime, and spread of hours violations.  According to the Complaint filed by attorneys for the workers in New York federal court, the popular wings restaurant paid its employees a weekly salary of $480 per week for 75 hours of work, which equaled an hourly rate below the minimum wage rate required by law, and failed to pay for overtime hours worked over 40.

Fresh Direct Delivery Workers Sue for Unpaid Wages, Overtime, and Gratuities

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Delivery workers for Fresh Direct, an online food and grocery retailer, have sued for unpaid wages and violations of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and New York Labor Law.  According to the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court by the delivery workers, Fresh Direct misled its customers in believing that the delivery charge it imposes on customers is a gratuity.  Attorneys for the delivery workers claim that the company’s acceptance and retention of gratuities belonging to the delivery workers violate the New York Labor Law.

Oheka Castle Hit with Wage Theft Lawsuit

oheka castle exterior

Oheka Castle, a catering facility for weddings and lavish events in Huntington, Long Island, has been hit with a wage theft class action by a former server and bartender.

According to the federal court Complaint filed by the attorneys for the workers, the catering facility (which was once the second largest residence in the United States) developed a fraudulent timekeeping scheme in order to avoid the payment of overtime premiums to their waitstaff.  When workers worked more than forty hours in a single workweek, they were required to carry over their hours to subsequent weeks, so that company records would not reflect that they worked more than forty hours in a given workweek.  In addition, the catering facility regularly required workers whose hours approached forty hours in a workweek to clock out of the company’s biometric timekeeping system and continue working.

Attorneys for the workers allege that the catering hall misappropriated tips belonging to servers and bartenders.  The Complaint alleges that owner Gary Melius personally confiscated cash tips left by patrons for other service staff.  Moreover, Oheka charges patrons of their restaurant and catering services, a “service charge” of up to 22% which is added to the bill, leading patrons to believe that the service charges would be paid to the service staff.  According to the lawsuit, however, Oheka violated the New York Labor Law because it did not remit any of those service charges to the service staff.