Batali’s Restaurants Sued Over Waiters’ Tips

Restaurant owners, if you thought you would avoid employee wage claims if you duplicated Iron Chef America champ Mario Batali’s tip pool, think again. Batali’s restaurants distribute the server tip pool on a percentage plan. Wait captains get the most, bartenders get a percent, and backwaiters get the least. But last July, Batali’s server staff sued, claiming not that the tip pool distributed unfairly, but that a 4-4.5% house retainage from the wine sales portion of the pool to cover wine education violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. With the Batali employees’ lawsuit, does the house taking 4% to 4.5% of the wine sales portion of the tip pool create problems under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act? Restaurant owners (big and small) may be able to pay employees less than the minimum wage if they earn tips. However, employees must be paid a wage plus tips which adds up to at least the minimum wage, per hour worked . Since 2009 the federal government has