A lawsuit alleging that Café Centro failed to pay its waiters and waitresses properly in regard to tips, overtime, service charges, and spread of hours premium has been permitted to move forward to class action certification. In an Award dated February 6, 2012, Arbitrator Bonnie Siber Weinstock denied the restaurant’s motion to compel the employees of Café Centro to arbitrate their claims on an individual basis. Arbitrator Weinstock reasoned as follows:
The decision to permit the arbitration to proceed on class or collective claims is fully consistent with the agreement to arbitrate which these Respondents crafted and imposed on their employees. The Arbitrator finds that while the Supreme Court precedent may dictate that a broad arbitration clause does not necessarily indicate consent of the contracting parties to permit class arbitration, neither should a bar to class or collective arbitrations or statutory claims be presumed absent evidence that the parties made a knowing waiver of that right. Where, as here, the employees were subjected to contracts of adhesion, and absent any indication that there were advised that their claims - even if statutory- would be limited to individual claims in an arbitration forum, the Arbitrator finds that the language of the Dispute Resolution Policy and the Dispute Resolution Agreement do not preclude class or collective action claims.
Louis Pechman, founder of Waiterpay.com, is the lawyer for the waiters in this lawsuit against Café Centro.