On December 6, 2017, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Haru restaurants, part of an acclaimed six chain sushi restaurant in New York, owned by Benihana National Corp., an international restaurant corporation with 77 restaurants around the world. The lawsuit claims that Haru wrongfully paid tipped employees, such as servers, bussers, runners and bartenders less than the full minimum wage in addition to other violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”).
Specifically, tipped employees were required to share a portion of their total tips with sushi chefs. Under the FLSA and the NYLL, a worker’s eligibility to earn tips depends on their interaction with customers. Here, the Plaintiff alleges that sushi chefs did not greet customers, take their orders, or deliver food or beverages to customers. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that sushi chefs were inappropriately included in the tip pool at the Haru restaurants.
In addition, Plaintiff alleges that tipped employees were required to spend a substantial amount of time performing non-tip producing side work, including, but not limited to, cleaning bathrooms, taking out garbage, general cleaning of the restaurant, refilling condiments, stocking and replenishing service areas, and washing, polishing and restocking glassware. Tipped employees were required to perform side work at the start, during, and the end of every shift which resulted in them spending more than 20% of their shifts completing side work duties. All of these required side work duties, customarily assigned to “back-of-the-house” employees in other restaurants, typically receive at least the full minimum wage rate. If a tipped worker, earning a reduced minimum wage, is forced to spend a significant amount of time completing side work, they should be paid the full minimum wage during that time.
This lawsuit seeks to recover minimum wages, overtime wages, misappropriated tips, call-in pay and other damages for tipped employees such as 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”). If you or a loved one has worked at these locations, please contact the employment lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer at (212) 300-0375 if you have any questions about this case. You can also view the complaint here.