After years of litigation, our New York wage and hour lawyers successfully settled a major case against a prominent New York City eatery on behalf of 32 plaintiffs, who alleged that the Defendant had violated New York Labor Law by illegally withholding gratuities.
Although the Defendant denied (and continues to deny) the material allegations and claims asserted, the restaurant agreed to settle, rather than risk extended litigation or a large public trial that could decimate the business’ brand. All told, after attorney’s fees and other costs, the plaintiffs received over $507,000 – a huge sum of money for any business to pay, particularly a restaurant trying to survive in the ferociously competitive New York food service industry.
Fortunately, the servers who fought to get this tip rule violation corrected can now rebuild their finances and move forward with their lives and careers. While the settlement was unquestionably a big victory for the plaintiffs, the resolution still feels slightly bittersweet. Why did it take so much effort, legal and otherwise, to compel this employer to adhere to the law and treat hardworking servers justly? More broadly, why do so many restaurants (and other businesses) in New York and beyond fail to nurture their biggest asset: their people?