Restaurateurs Under Siege



Some of the city’s hottest chefs and restaurateurs are increasingly being targeted by lawsuits filed by a handful of attorneys on behalf of small numbers of employees.

This week’s targets include Michael White and Chris Cannon’s restaurant group, which runs three upscale Italian restaurants in Manhattan, and Masaharu Morimoto of “Iron Chef” fame. They come on top of a suit filed in federal court last month against Italian giants Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich that has grown to at least 20 plaintiffs from two.

The suits have similar allegations: that restaurants are depriving low-level employees of due tip wages in violation of state and federal labor laws. Some also allege that restaurants fail to abide by a state law requiring that employees receive an extra hour of pay if they work for 10 or more hours in one day. They seek unpaid wages and tips, interest, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees, and all seek class-action certification.

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