, renowned American chef, writer, restaurateur and media personality, has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle a lawsuit that alleges he confiscated a portion of his restaurant workers' tips. The lawsuit is against Mario Batali and his business partner, Joseph Bastianich, who has been working with Batali for a long time.
News about Mario Batali’s lawsuit settlement is gaining a lot of attention and the entire social media is abuzz with updates on the case. The court papers for this case were filed in Manhattan federal court. The settlement for which Batali has agreed has yet to be signed by a judge. Provided the settlement is signed, it may end up compensating as many as 1,100 waiters, captains and other staffers.
The lawsuit against Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich was filed back in 2010. Their restaurants had a policy of deducting an amount equivalent to 4 to 5 percent of total wine sales at the end of each night from the tip pool and keeping the money.
One bartender was told that “it was a policy across the Batali restaurant group” and that the money “went to the house,” judge Richard J. Holwell wrote in a ruling last May. At Tarry Lodge, in Port Chester, N.Y., a spreadsheet divided a night’s tips among waiters and documented a 4 percent deduction, Judge Holwell noted. At one staff meeting, an executive “refused to justify the policy and said it was not going to change,” the judge wrote.
Surprisingly, the employees were given a justification for the amount that was unfairly deducted. Mario Batali told his staff that the money was to cover expenses related to wine research and to cover broken glassware, the judge added. He made no findings on the merits of the case.
Several Batali restaurants have adopted this model and were named in the suit. These restaurants include Babbo, Del Posto, Casa Mono, Bar Jamón, Esca, Lupa and Otto with all of them located in Manhattan.
Mario Batali is, quite ironically, associated with various social causes. He is on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization, which provides a daily meal to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa.
Batali is frequently seen on TV. He is an expert on the history and culture of Italian cuisine, including regional and local variations.