Les Halles Employees Sue
September 27, 2012 9:38 am
Another day, another celebrity chef in the news in connection with wage and hour complaints. Just a few days ago, Mario Batali made a second settlement with workers at his Del Posto bistro, agreeing to permanently alter practices at the restaurant and become a “high road employer.” Earlier this month, a class action involving up to 100 employees was filed against Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles, alleging an illegal tip-pooling system and minimum wage violations.
According to papers filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court, the restaurant, which lists Bourdain as a chef-at-large, was allegedly involved in a tip-pooling system in which 26 percent of pooled tips went to floor managers. Speaking to the New York Post, attorney Jeffrey Goldman, who is attempting to represent a class of up to 100 current and former Les Halles employees, remarked on the illegality of the alleged practice:
“It’s wrong for managers to share in the tip pool,” said Goldman.
New York Restaurant Insider goes further:
The basic premises concerning “tips” are as follows: in no event may the employer or his/her “agent” share in the employees’ tips; an employee cannot consent to the employer sharing in the tips; non-service employees may not share in tips.
The minimum wage for tipped employees in New York is the same as the federal rate — a stunningly low $2.13 an hour. The bulk of tipped employees’ livelihoods comes from the generosity of customers.
For his part, Bourdain has not worked at the restaurant for six years, and was surprised by the allegations. Speaking with the New York Post, Bourdain claimed:
“In my experiences at Les Halles, management was, if anything, unusually scrupulous about these things.”
Ethical eating means ethical employment practices. Check out the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s Diners Guide here to see how you can support restaurants that support their workers.
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