Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Ordered to Pay $5.25 million for Skimming Tips From His Restaurant Help

New York Daily News - Robert Gearty and Corky Siemaszko
March 7, 2012

Celebrity chef Mario Batali has agreed to whip up a $5.25 million payment to the captains, waiters and other workers at his restaurants who claimed they had been stiffed out of tips.

Two-thirds of what may be the biggest settlement of its kind will be shared by 1,100 workers everybody from the bartenders to the busboys at swanky Manhattan eateries like Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, Del Posto, Esca, Lupa and Otto, and Tarry Lodgein Port Chester, court papers revealed Wednesday.

When the workers sued two years ago, Bastianich called it a shakedown ” and made a point of sarcastically thanking some of the staff who took him and Batali to court.

He also discouraged other workers from joining the suit, saying, Only the lawyers make money on these lawsuits, ” the court papers state.

There was no immediate comment from either famous foodie after word of the huge settlement leaked out.

Lawyers for both sides issued a single statement saying, The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. ”

The settlement covers staff who worked for Batali’s restaurants from July 2004 through February of this year, and the payouts will be proportional based on the number of hours worked.

Capsolas claimed she was harassed after she sued.

I have found the word “rat’ written on my locker at work, ” she said in court papers.

Capsolas and Alvarado claimed they were forced to share their tips with other workers who weren’t legally entitled to them and charged they’d been short-changed on wages and overtime.

More than a hundred other workers at Batali’s and Bastianich’s restaurants then joined in the suit.

Many claimed the multimillionaire owners refused to pay them the minimum wage and forced them to work more than 40 hours a week.

Previously, the biggest settlement for tip skimming was the $3.9 million paid by the Shelly Fireman’s Restaurant group, which owns Trattoria Dell’Arte, Cafe Fiorello, Fireman’s of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Diner USA, Redeye Grill and Shelly’s New York.

The famed Sparks Steakhouse had to pay out $3.1 million for the same practice, as did the Nobu restaurants,who settled with their workers for $2.5 million.