Tag Archives: New York City

Servers at Le Cirque Sue For Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations

le cirque logo

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.

Judge Awards $60,000 to Food Cart Vendors for Overtime Violations

food truck stand

The owners of several food carts in New York City owe $60,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to two employees according to a decision by Judge Andrea Masley, New York Civil Court Judge.

Judge Masey held that the food cart owners violated the New York Labor Law as they did not pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours in a work week and also made unlawful deductions by requiring employees to pay the cost of any tickets issued while working. Judge Masley awarded liquidated damages because the violations were willful, despite one owner’s argument that he is a “simple man” who was unaware of the applicable labor laws. Judge Masley noted that the owner’s “ignorance on basic labor laws will not shield him from penalties associated with complying with the law.”

Cook Sues Brother Jimmy’s Barbeque Restaurant for Overtime Pay

brother jimmys bbq logo

A cook who worked at various locations of Brother Jimmy’s barbeque restaurants in New York, has sued the restaurants for unpaid overtime and spread of hours pay.

The collective action lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court claims that cooks at Brother Jimmy’s restaurants in New York City have been cheated out of their overtime wages and spread of hours pay.  Attorneys for the workers seek unpaid wages and damages for cooks who worked at Brother Jimmy’s restaurants in New York since February 2011.

Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) is Accused of Intimidation and Harassment

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Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) has been accused of harassment by Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican from California. The House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform is inquiring into the Department of Labor’s support for ROC.

Congressman Issa’s letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis states that “ROC’s history of intimidation towards opponents and management problems with its own restaurant raises significant questions about why DOL decided to form an alliance with and provide federal funding to the organization.” Citing media reports, Congressman Issa stated as follows:

ROC targets restaurants that it believes have subpar safety or workplace conditions and demands that the restaurant pay a monetary award. When a restaurant resists these demands, ROC organizes large protests outside the restaurant, harasses patrons who want to enter and eat in the restaurant, and even place giant inflatable cockroaches outside of the restaurant. In one example, ROC repeatedly harassed celebrity Chef Mario Batali’s restaurant in New York City, forcing Mr. Batali to obtain a restraining order against ROC.

ROC was founded in New York after September 11, 2001 in response to the loss of many restaurant jobs. ROC’s stated mission is “to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s low-wage restaurant work force.” In 2009 ROC received a $275,000 grant from the DOL through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Susan Harwood program, whose purpose is to educate restaurant employers and workers on prevention of health and safety hazards, as well as inform workers of their rights.