Celebrity Chef Mario Batali to Pay $5.25M in Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement Over Tips
March 8, 2012
In recent labor and employment law news, celebrity Chef Mario Batali and his business partners have decided to settle a class action wage and hour lawsuit filed against them in 2010, for $5.25 million this week. The lawsuit, that Vincent Howard has previously discussed in our Anaheim, California employment lawyers blog, was filed by 117 former restaurant workers who alleged that Batali's restaurants engaged in the practice of illegally skimming their tips, and failing to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation.
The lawsuit was originally filed against Batali and partner Joseph Bastianich after servers at Batali's restaurants "Del Posto," and "Babbo" accused their employers of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by unlawfully taking a portion of their hard-earned tips that equaled around 4-5 percent of the nightly alcohol and wine sales. Employees were reportedly told that the amount taken from tips would go either "back to the house" or to the restaurant wine program research.
According to the court papers, the class-action wage and hour lawsuit contained 117 plaintiffs, and could cover as many as 1,100 employees that would include bartenders, servers, waiters, bussers, backwaiters, captains, and barbacks, who were employed at Batali's eight high profile restaurants from July of 2004 to February of this year, and who did not opt-out of the settlement. The precise amount that each plaintiff will receive will be reportedly determined by how many hours the individuals worked for the different Batali restaurants, including Del Posto, Babbo, Esca, Lupa, Otto, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, and Tarry Lodge.
Batali, who is known both as a New York restaurant owner, and a celebrity chef on TV, is a regular on the Food Network, and recently has been seen on the television series, "On the Road Again," traveling around Spain tasting the country's culinary treats with Hollywood starlet Gwyneth Paltrow.
As Vincent Howard reported in a recent Laguna Hills, California employment lawyers blog, this lawsuit is similar to other wage and hour suits that have been brought against other high-profile chefs over the past few years, for violations of the FLSA. Other high-profile restaurant wage and hour lawsuits have been filed recently against Atlamarea Group's Michael White, Danny Meyer, from Eleven Madison, and Masaharu Morimoto, the Iron Chef personality. Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian was also sued last year for wage theft and violating wage and hour provisions of the FLSA.
If you are an Orange County, California employee who has experienced state or federal wage and hour violations and you are seeking recovery, contact Vincent Howard and our dedicated Howard Law labor and employment legal team, so we can formulate the best remedy or solution to your workplace wage and hour issues.
Mario Batali Settles Tip Lawsuit For $5.25 Million, Huffington Post, March 7, 2012
Batali Agrees to $5.25M Server-Tip Suit Accord, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, March 8, 2012
Mario Batali Agrees to $5.25 Million Settlement Over Employee Tips, The New York Times, March 7, 2012
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Class Action Status Granted in Wage and Hour Lawsuit Against Mario Batali's NY Restaurants, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 26, 2011
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