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Class Action Status Granted in Wage and Hour Lawsuit Against Mario Batali's NY Restaurants

May 26, 2011

In a recent Laguna Hills, California employment lawyers blog, our attorneys discussed a wage and hour lawsuit filed against celebrity Chef Mario Batali, where former and current employees of his restaurants accused him of violating minimum wage laws and depriving them of tips and service charges.

In related labor and employment news, earlier this month, a collective action was certified in the Southern District of New York, against eight of Batali's New York restaurants--also alleging Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allegations. In the collective action, the servers in the restaurant claim that the restaurants pay the employees less than minimum wage and retain a portion of their tips unlawfully.

According to the lawsuit, the restaurants take a portion of all credit-card tips, equaling around 4-5% of the nightly wine sales--that should go to the employee tip-pool. Employees were reportedly told that the amount taken from tips would go either "back to the house" or to the restaurant wine program.

The owners of the restaurants reportedly argued that class certification status was not justified, as there was not clear enough support to prove a common policy of tip withholding in the restaurants. But the New York court disagreed, finding that there was ample evidence that a uniform policy of tip withholding was in place in all eight of the restaurants. This court decision allows the plaintiffs to send notice of the class action status to other tipped workers within the eight Mario Batali restaurants.

N.Y. Court allows restaurant servers to pursue class claims against Batali restaurants due to tip policy, Lexology.com, May 13, 2011

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Related Blog Posts:

Los Angeles Thai Restaurant Pays Over $162K in Back Wages for FLSA Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 12, 2011

Chef Mario Batali's Del Posto Sued for Back Wages and Tips, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 20, 2010