Celebrity chef settles class action for $5.25 million

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by Steve Larson
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Mario Batali, the celebrity TV chef and owner of a string of restaurants, is often seen with actress, Gwyneth Paltrow, taste testing the culinary delights of Spain in their public television series “On the Road Again.”  Two years ago, Batali was sued in New York federal court in Manhattan, where he was accused of cheating workers of part of their tips for serving wine.  Recently, he and his associate, Joseph Bastianich, agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle the class action lawsuit.

Servers at New York restaurants including Babbo, Casa Mono, the Spotted Pig and Tarry Lodge sued in 2010, alleging their employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act — in part by pocketing gratuities equal to as much as 5 percent of nightly wine sales.

“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.

The settlement agreement, filed March 5, 2012, is subject to approval by a federal judge.