Celebrity chefBatali has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed against him by waiters of his restaurant for taking out money from their tips. Batali, along with his business partner, Joseph Bastianich, were sued in the New York federal court.
The “On the Road Again” TV chef was sued for cheating his workers and failing to pay their overtime and minimum wages.
“Mr. Batali, Mr. Bastianich, and their restaurants unlawfully confiscated a portion of their workers’ hard-earned tips in order to supplement their own profits,” employees said in their complaint, adding that at times their tips totaled up to 5 percent of their wages.
The settlement agreement, filed March 5, is subject to approval by a federal judge.
While initially there were only 10 named plaintiffs, more people have been joining the case since it was first certified as a class-action case.
According to court papers, the class-action suit covers more than 1,100 employees, including servers and bar tenders at Babbo, Del Posto, Bar Jamon, Casa Mona, Esca, Lupa, Otto and Tarry Lodge, working since 2004. These restaurants, co-owned by Mario with partners Nancy Silverton and Bastianich, are among a total of 17 across the United States.
The court papers said that extending the judgment would not just be costly but will also deter the closure even further; therefore, an appropriate settlement would be made as soon as possible to provide monetary relief to the workers in a prompt and efficient manner.
"Class members will receive a proportional share of the fund based on the number of hours they worked, the restaurant at which they worked, the percentage of total tips received during their employment, and whether they opted in to the collective," the papers say.
All those who have been working for the restaurants from July 22, 2004, to February 14, 2012, are eligible to join the settlement.
While Batali’s attorney, A., declined to give any comments, one of the employees’ lawyers, Rachel M. Bien, said that the matter had been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
The settlement amount is less than a drop in the ocean when compared to the far-flung business and its respective earnings Batali and his partners make each year.
Batali is currently co-hosting ABC show “The Chew” and also owns several cookbook and kitchenware lines.