Le Bernardin, owed by celebrity chef Eric Ripert, has been sued for sexual harassment and wage theft violations. According to a lawsuit filed in New York federal court, the famed eatery permitted male captains to harass restaurant hostesses, retaliated against a waitress who complained about the harassment, and cheated its waitstaff out of their pay.
According to the lawsuit, female workers are sexually harassed at the restaurant, and those who complain are ignored or shamed by management. In the complaint, a waitress alleges she was touched inappropriately on two occasions by two male captains and that male captains frequently sexually harass hostesses at the restaurant. When the waitress complained to the General Manager, she claims he told her she fabricated the story and instructed other workers not to talk to her, as she was “a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Le Bernardin is also accused of not paying its workers the legally required minimum wage for all hours worked. According to the lawsuit, Le Bernardin violated the tip credit provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL) by requiring its waitstaff members to share their tips with tip-ineligible employees. The lawsuit claims as a result, Le Bernardin has to pay employees the full minimum wage, plus the applicable overtime rates. It also accuses the restaurant of violating the law by not giving its employees proper notice of minimum wage and tip credit each time the minimum wage changed, as required by the NYLL.