Wage-and-Hour Suits Put Industry on Defensive
This comprehensive November 19, 2007 article on wage theft and employment discrimination in the restaurant industry features a lengthy discussion of the causes and consequences of employee abuse in food service jobs. Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP's own Maimon Kirschenbaum offers an articulate defense of the practice of filing class-action suits against employers who violate wage theft law.
According to the article, the union presence in the restaurant industry currently is almost nil. Wage theft has proliferated nationwide, touching every part of the industry -- from A-list NYC restaurants to nationwide chains like Applebee's. Kirschenbaum argues that employers, to cut their own costs, often ignore their legal obligations to their workers (for instance, by allowing shift managers to take a cut of waiters' tip pools). Often, those who bear the brunt of abuse are recent immigrants or uneducated transients who don't realize they're being victimized or denied their rights. Kirschenbaum hopes that Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP and other watchdogs can levy a "social good" by forcing the restaurant industry to reexamine its labor practices and reform.
Lawsuits Brought Against Bouley, BondSt, and BLT Empire
This article, published in New York Magazine on August 8, 2008, discusses several Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP cases headed up by firm partner Maimon Kirschenbaum. The cases all relate to wage theft violations at high profile restaurants. Each one of the referenced cases seems likely to be a high profile affair. The restaurants named in these various suits include Abigail Kirsch, One Little West 12, Bouley, Bond St., and several BLT Restaurants (BLT Fish, BLT Prime, and BLT Steak).
Violations alleged include:
- Waiters charged for breaking glasses.
- Waiters docked pay for "punching in" late on their time clocks.
- Owners failing to pay overtime
- Owners, managers and chefs stealing up to 20% from tip pools.
- Waiters being forced to work without overtime pay.
Wolfgang's the Latest to Feel Maimon's Lash
According to this article published on www.the-feedbag.com, Wolfgang's Steakhouse, one of the New York City's most elite eateries, has found itself under the gun for employment discrimination. J&H partner Maimon Kirschenbaum has filed a class-action claim against the popular red meat joint for withholding tips from wait staff, providing wages well below the legal minimum, and otherwise denying staff basic rights and protections from abuse. The article also points out that Kirschenbaum is getting quite a reputation for his fearlessness in facing down the city's most well heeled and seemingly untouchable restaurateurs. Other high profile Kirschenbaum targets have included Bouley, BLT Steak, and Le Cirque. Kirschenbaum has even gone after Japanese uber-chef Nobu in a separate wage and hour violation class action - all in an effort to correct systemic abuse in the restaurant industry.