Manhattan celebrity chef Mario Batali has agreed to a $5.25 million settlement with waiters, bartenders, busboys and other floor staff at several of his restaurants.
In 2010, the employees sued the famed restaurateur, claiming that since 2004, Batali had routinely deducted between 4% and 5% of wine sales from their tip pools to cover whattermed “wine research” and “broken glasses.” They alleged the diverted tip income went straight into the house’s pocket.
Employees at Batali’s Manhattan restaurants Babbo, Otto, Casa Mono, Bar Jamón, Esca, Lupa and Del Posto, along with Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, claimed the practice violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ().
Approximately 1,100 current and former employees will split the settlement funds.
Tip: Think twice before getting creative with employees’ gratuities. Both the FLSA and the New York Hospitality Industry Wage Order are complicated statutes that prompt lots of lawsuits.