Celebrity chef Mario Batali, who is best known for his appearances on the television reality show On the Road Again with actress Gwyneth Paltrow has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that he cheated workers at his Manhattan restaurant of their tips.
The lawsuit had been filed by restaurant workers at several New York restaurants owned by Mario Batali and his partner Joseph Bastianich, including The Spotted Pig and Tarry Lodge. Servers at these restaurants alleged that Mr. Batali and his partner unlawfully confiscated a portion of the workers tips, equaling 5% of the nightly wine sales. According to the lawsuit, the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
According to the management, the tips confiscated from workers went towards replacing broken glasses. However, according to the lawsuit, the tips were used to supplement the owners’ profits. The lawsuit also accused both Batali and his partner of failing to pay the federal minimum wage and failing to pay overtime wages to employees.
On March 5, Mr. Batali and his partner reached an agreement under which the two agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle the charges. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included waiters, buses, runners, bartenders and other restaurant employees working at the New York eateries. The settlement has not yet been approved by a judge. However, once it is approved, it is expected to include more than 1,000 employees who worked at Casa Mono, Esca, Bar Jamon, Babbo, Del Pasto and several other exclusive restaurants.
All the workers named in the lawsuit will now have to distribute the settlement amount among them. California labor lawyers expect that the settlement will be divided based on the number of hours that the employees worked, and the kind of work they performed.