NEW YORK — A group of current and former restaurant workers for Blue Hill at Stone Barns, named The Best Restaurant in America by Eater.com, recently settled their unpaid overtime lawsuit with the company for the sum of $2 million. An estimated 250 current and former servers, bussers, back waiters, food runners, bartenders, and hosts may be eligible to draw from the settlement, with each class member eligible for an average of $5,000 and two-lead plaintiffs taking an additional $25,000 each.
The wage theft lawsuit, filed earlier this year in the Supreme Court of the State of New York for Kings County, alleges the defendant engaged in an illegal tip pool to compensate hourly wage earning workers not engaged in guest engagement. Under New York labor and wage laws, only restaurant workers spending at least 70% of their time in the “front of the house” may be paid less than minimum wage and receive tips directly from guests or from a tip pool.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the defendant illegally retained service charges for private banquets and other events. Often times, guests forgo tipping when restaurants add service charges to bills as it creates the impression that gratuity has already been included in the bill. The complaint states the defendants made no attempt to inform guests the service charge was not a gratuity given to service staff.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs claim the defendants failed to pay the proposed class for “spread hours” under New York wage laws. Under these provisions, employers must pay workers an additional hour of average hourly wages when these employees spend more than 10 hours on the job in a day.
Lastly, the lawsuit claims the defendants failed to pay plaintiffs for overtime wages and were fully aware of the worker’s’ duties but willingly violated both state and federal labor laws. The defendant does not admit fault with the settlement but should go a long way to preventing future instances of wage theft from taking place.
Restaurant Worker Unpaid Overtime Lawsuits
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Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.