On August 31, 2010, Outten & Golden LLP filed a class and collective action complaint against Chris Cannon, Altamarea Group, LLC, and Alto 53, LLC. The lawsuit seeks to recover misappropriated tips, minimum wages, spread-of-hours pay, and uniform-related expenses for hourly food service workers, including assistants (servers), captains, bussers, and runners, who work or worked at Alto, an upscale Italian restaurant, located at 11 East 53rd Street in New York City. Alto, along with several other restaurants, including Marea and Convivio, are owned and/or operated by restaurateur Chris Cannon and chef Michael White.
Since 2006, when Cannon asked White to take over the kitchens of Alto and Convivio (then called L’Impero), the two have swiftly built an empire of high-end Italian restaurants that will soon expand to include two new restaurants, Osteria Morini and Ai Fiori. In addition to earning critical acclaim, including glowing reviews in the New York Times, the complaint alleges that Cannon’s and White’s restaurants have earned them millions. Marea, which opened in 2009, reportedly grossed $13.5 million in its first year, notwithstanding the recession.
The lawsuit alleges that, despite their great success, which Cannon and White achieved on the backs of their waitstaff, they required their waitstaff to share their hard-earned tips with tip ineligible workers, including the General Manager of Alto, that they unlawfully took a tip credit and paid less than the full minimum wage, that they denied their waitstaff spread-of-hours pay, and that they required them to purchase and launder required uniforms.
On December 22, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the case as a collective action on behalf of waiters, bussers, and runners. The plaintiffs defeated a motion to dismiss on January 18, 2011. The case was settled in May 2011 for $300,000. The Court granted final approval of the settlement on August 16, 2011.
(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)