Waitstaff and busboys at Port Chester's will soon get their share of $5.25 million from celebrity Chef Mario Batali after more than 100 restaurant workers successfully sued, claiming they'd been stiffed on tips.
The employees "claimed that his restaurants had illegally confiscated part of their tips to supplement their profits," according to the New York Times.
The newspaper quotes court documents, including details of the alleged skimming policy in action in Port Chester:
One bartender was told that “it was a policy across the Batali restaurant group” and that the money “went to the house,” a judge, Richard J. Holwell, wrote in a ruling last May. At Tarry Lodge, in Port Chester, N.Y., a spreadsheet divided a night’s tips among waiters and documented a 4 percent deduction, Judge Holwell noted. At one staff meeting, an executive “refused to justify the policy and said it was not going to change,” the judge wrote.
Along with taking a cut of tips from servers at Tarry Lodge, Batali and co. were accused of using the same policy at other restaurants the celebrity chef owned, including Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, Del Posto, Esca, Lupa and Otto.
Batali partner Joseph Bastianich called the lawsuit "a shakedown" when it was filed in 2010, but has been silent on the matter since the agreement.
The suit started with two employees — a waitress and a kitchen-runner at Babbo in Manhattan — and picked up steam as more than 100 other Batali employees signed on.
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