Law Office of Lowell Steiger

Mario Batali Tip Scamming Lawsuit: What Are The Rules?

Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: March 10, 2012

Wow, that’s a lotta pasta! Yep, how many plates of his world famous delectable delights will Mario Batali have to sell to pay the $5.25 Million settlement? (read entire settlement agreement here – courtesy of Huffington Post). Plenty.

What’s It All About?

Well, the lawsuit alleges that Batali, and his partner Joseph Bastianich, violated the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act by (1) pocketing tips owed to the staff that were equal to as much as 5 percent of nightly wine sales, (2) not paying the federal minimum wage, and (3) failing to pay overtime.

Did Mario Break The Rules?

If the allegations are true, then, yes. Employers are not allowed to take their employee’s tips for any reason. Tips are the property of the employee. There are certain states that allow employers to get a credit against wages owed for tips received but this is not what happened here.

Not paying the Federal Minimum Wage? What was he thinking? An employer, famous or otherwise, has to pay his or her employees at least the inimum wage. It’s the law!

Failing to pay overtime? This is illegal in all 50 states!

This Happened in New York

What If It Happened in California?

If these things happened in California, there’d be hell to pay. Here,employers are prohibited from crediting any portion of a tip received by an employee against the wages owed to that employee. (Labor Code Section 351). Your boss could be on the hook for penalties, interest, attorney’s fees and all sorts of grief (maybe eve punitive damages!). Don’t let your boss cheat you out of what’s yours!

If you’re entitled to overtime but didn’t get paid overtime then, again, your boss would be in for some well-deserved grief. Take a look at Department of Industrial Relations on Overtime

If you’re in California and don’t get paid minimum wage, you’ve been illegally taken advantage of and need to speak with a lawyer. Period. Here, take a look at the United States Department of Labor’s Discussion on Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws.

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