Restaurant News: Mario Batali Will Pay $5.25 Million to Settle Tip Skimming Lawsuit

As reported in various publications (Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post,Christian Science Monitor) chef Mario Batali decided to settle his tip skimming lawsuit for $5.25 million – purportedly the largest settlement of its kind in the history of the restaurant industry.

Batali and his associates will pay the award to a class of 117 plaintiffs, represented by New York law firms Joseph & Kirschenbaum and Outten & Golden. The plaintiff class includes current and former workers -- “all individuals who worked at [Batali’s] restaurants as captains, servers, waiters, bussers, runners, back waiters, bartenders and/or barbacks from July 22nd 2004 to February 14th 2012, and who do not opt out of the settlement.” The restaurants included: "Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, Esca, Del Posto, Lupa, Otto and Tarry Lodge."

The plaintiffs alleged that illegal tip skimming had been a pervasive practice at Batali’s restaurants. The restaurants allegedly illegally denied hardworking waiters, bartenders and others of fair remuneration and overtime. Four to five percent of their tips allegedly went to sommeliers. The amount each plaintiff will receive will depend on how many hours he or she worked at Batali’s restaurants. Court documents say that final arrangements will likely be completed by the middle of June.

Maimon Kirschenbaum Named #3 Fighter in NY Eater's 2011 Top Ten New York Eater Selects Maimon Kirschenbaum’s Epic Quest For Fairness at NYC Restaurants as One of Its Top 10 “Fights and Freak Outs” of 2011

New York Eater recently released its “Top 10 Restaurants Fights and Freak Outs of 2011.” The list included the epic grudge match of our own Maimon Kirschenbaum versus The Restaurants of New York City” as # 3. Attorney Kirschenbaum has won infamy among restaurateurs -- and much praise from workers (waiters, managers, cooks, etc.) -- for his relentless quest for justice in wage and hour and tip misappropriation cases.

New York Eater noted that, in 2011 alone, Kirschenbaum took on huge names in the restaurant business, including Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, Maguy Le Coze and Fresco by Scotto.

Former target Joe Bastianich of Eataly sounded a sour note, suggesting that "money grubbing lawyers" had driven him and his partners out of the NYC restaurant business and robbed the city of "700" jobs. Clearly, Bastianich would not put attorney Kirschenbaum on his list of “people I would like to dine with.” But it’s helpful to keep in mind that perhaps thousands of people have been helped by attorney Kirschenbaum’s passionate crusade to end abusive practices at NYC restaurants.

Click here for the article and Top Ten list.