The acclaimed chain Haru restaurants of New York have landed themselves in a bit of hot water after a recent wage lawsuit claims they have been paying tipped workers less than the full minimum wage in conjunction with other pay issues. These wage claims violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”), federal and state laws, designed to protect worker rights. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP filed this class action lawsuit yesterday which intends to help recover minimum wages, overtime wages, misappropriated tips, call-in pay and other damages for tipped employees. Affected workers include servers, bussers, runners, and bartenders who work or have worked at the Haru restaurants located at 220 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10003 (“Gramercy Haru”) and 1329 3rd Ave., New York, NY 10011 (“Third Ave. Haru”).
The lawsuit claims that tipped employees at these locations were required to share their tips with sushi chefs despite the fact that the chefs have no interaction with customers. Customer interaction, such as taking orders, greeting customers and delivering food and beverages to the tables, is a required responsibility to earn tips under the FLSA and the NYLL. Haru instead chose to deny its tipped workers their rightfully earned gratuities by misappropriating them to sushi chefs who are not entitled to them. Additionally, tipped employees at these locations were required to spend a significant amount of time completing side work that did not earn them tips. The side work included cleaning bathrooms, sweeping, mopping, taking out garbage, restocking sauce containers, polishing glassware, and moving food to refrigerators. This side work took up at least 20% of their scheduled shift times and is a job duty that requires they be paid the full minimum wage rate.
Unfortunately the violations seen here are extremely common in the restaurant industry. If you or a loved one has worked at these locations or has similar concerns from working at other restaurants, a free consultation with an employment attorney may help you understand your rights as tipped worker. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP offers a free phone consultation with one of their available attorneys. They can be reached at (212) 300-0375 or by visiting their website and using their contact form.