Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Sued - Again!

Celebrity chef Mario Batali and his business partners are being sued by 27 workers from the Manhattan restaurant Del Posto, who say they weren't paid a legal wage.
Waiters, busboys and other workers say managers at Del Posto improperly pooled their tips in violation of state labor laws, and illegally withheld a portion of some gratuities on wine sales.
Tip-pooling has been problematic for a number of New York restaurateurs, as employees have been in court against other celebrity chefs, including Bobby Flay.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims that all workers at Del Posto, which were praised a few weeks ago by New York Times food critic Sam Sifton as "a pleasure that lasts, offering memories of flavors that may return later in a dream" — were placed in  a point system that determines how much they receive in gratuities.

Captains — they get the most with six points.
Bartenders are next with five points.
Front waiters and food expediters got four and the rest of the staff get smaller amounts, with stockers getting two.
The lawsuit also said staff who worked banquets weren't getting their proper share of a 23 percent service charge billed customers. 
Instead, the workers got a flat fee of $150 to $250 per shift, depending on their role.
The food workers believe the customers assumed the 23% charge was a gratuity.

The lawsuit seeks compensation including backpay, unspecified damages and attorney's fees.

This just adds to the lawsuits Batali and partners Joseph and Lidia Bastianich are already fighting against in similar suits involving other restaurants.