Pier Sixty Banquet Hall Staff to Receive $8.5M in Settlement over Tips

April 3, 2012

Last month in a Santa Ana employment attorney blog, Vincent Howard discussed the settlement of celebrity Chef Mario Batali's class action wage and hour lawsuit for $5.25 million, which accused the chef and Joseph Bastianich, Batali's business partner of skimming a portion of the restaurant workers' tips in their New York restaurants.

This week in similar wage and hour news, Pier Sixty, the Manhattan banquet hall, has agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by employees who claim that the hall skimmed their tips and failed to pay overtime compensation.

The Pier Sixty wage and hour lawsuit was filed in 2008 on behalf of the banquet hall's bartenders, servers, and busboys, who alleged that the hall charged a 20-22% service charge to customers, which customers believed to be for employee tips, without distributing this service fee to the employees.

According a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report, this wave of service fee-related lawsuits stemmed from a New York Supreme Court ruling from 2008, determining that the service fees usually added to large parties must be passed on to employees receiving tips, if the customer believes that the tip is for staff gratuity. This ruling also led to a new trend of litigation because it allowed for lawsuits to be filed retroactively for six years. The WSJ also reports that legislation was introduced this year in January, to amend the state labor law so that liability cannot be retroactive.

The class action wage and hour lawsuit settlement is still pending in Manhattan federal court, and affects around 2,500 employees who worked for the banquet hall from 2002 until the present. Pier Sixty is located in Chelsea Piers, the entertainment and sports complex situated along the Hudson River in Manhattan, New York.

As Vincent Howard reported previously, Mario Batali's New York wage and hour lawsuit was filed by 117 former restaurant workers who claimed that the celebrity chef's restaurants took a portion of their nightly tips that equaled around 4-5 percent of the alcohol and wine sales for the day. The restaurant staff was allegedly told that the amount taken from tips would go either to the restaurant wine program, or "back to the house."

If you or someone you know has experienced violations of state or federal labor or employment laws, contact Vincent Howard and our Riverside labor and employment legal team, so we can help solve your workplace wage and hour issues, in order to find the best recovery.

Pier Sixty Staff Wins Record Settlement, The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2012

Pier staff's $8M deal, New York Post, April 2, 2012

Related Web Resources:

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

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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Celebrity Chef Mario Batali to Pay $5.25M in Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit, Settlement Over Tips, California Employment Lawyers Blog, March 8, 2012

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