Restaurant mogul and celebrity chef Daniel Boulud is the subject of a new multimillion dollar lawsuit, filed by servers who claim they were robbed of their rightful tips and wages. The civil suit filed in Manhattan alleges that servers were tasked with duties above and beyond their job parameters and were not fairly compensated, reports the Post. It also claims servers were forced to share tips with back of house staff in the kitchen.
Servers Carlos Cruz Cacildo, Edison Lopez and Justin Wands say they compelled to perform activities such as taking out the garbage, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms but were not duly compensated for the work. Instead of the required $8-per-hour minimum wage rate, they were paid at the $5-per-hour rate allowed for workers who earn tips at their jobs. "Workers deserve to be treated fairly," said their attorney Brian Schaffer. "The law is very clear about this." Tip pooling is technically legal in New York State, though the specifics of the lawsuit's claims are unclear.
Coincidentally, on Monday Schaffer reached a settlement for 88 other Boulud employees in a separate federal lawsuit filed with similar allegations. Workers hinted at a greed angle, saying Boulud was unwilling to share the rewards of his success—including accolades to celebrity visitors to fundraising gigs—with his employees.
A request for comment from Boulud's publicist has not been returned.
The recent wage theft narrative has focused on fast food workers and their plight for fair treatment under the law, but these alleged shady practices are also common in the fine dining arena. Recently, Michelin-starred Dovetail was sued under similar circumstances; other eateries have been accused of other wage theft actions like stealing delivery worker's gratuities.